Victory: Cleaning staff strike at University of London wins major concessions on pay and conditions

Outsourced cleaners claim better terms on sick pay and annual leave

Striking cleaners at the University of London have won a hard-fought battle for improved working conditions.

Yesterday, on the second day of a 48-hour walkout, Balfour Beatty Workplace, which delivers outsourced cleaning services at UoL, announced it would improve sick pay entitlement, increase holiday pay and give access to its pension scheme to all its employees.

The strike was led by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain, a trade union not recognised by the university – with considerable help from activist students, running what they call the “3Cosas” campaign. Most of the strikers are immigrants, who traditionally have less access to labour representation.

Read more: Suds and solidarity: On the picket lines with University of London cleaning staff

The new deal would see BBW staff receiving between 22 and 25 days paid annual leave on a pro-rata basis, and increased sick pay duration, depending on length of service.

The deal was agreed with the Unison union, which is the recognised union on campus, however, a spokesman for the IWGB insisted that most of the outsourced cleaners are members of his union.

“This is a victory,” said IWGB’s Jason Moyer-Lee. “We’ve won tangible, concrete results for people.”

“But it’s very much a first step. We still have a number of demands not yet won. Sick pay and holiday pay are much improved, but not yet equal with direct employees. There’s been no movement on pensions or job losses.”

Moyer-Lee added that the next step is a meeting between members, and that further industrial action is not off the cards.

A jubilant post on the 3Cosas campaign’s Facebook page claimed that the strike had produced “serious results”, but insisted that “the struggle continues”.

Picket lines first formed outside Senate House, UoL’s headquarters in central London, on Wednesday. There was a good turnout, with as many as 100 people demonstrating, and a large police presence, while some attempts were made to stop deliveries into the building.

The first day of the strike was designed to coincide with Princess Anne’s visit to the university for an honorary degree ceremony.

In a statement, the University of London said it “welcomed” the agreement with Unison.

Chris Cobb, UoL's chief operating officer and secretary, said: “This is a major step forward and I am delighted that the constructive dialogue between our contractor BBW and our recognised union, Unison, is proving so productive.

“I hope that we will soon be in a position to confirm a full agreement between the two parties.”

A spokesperson for BBW pointed out that staff were already paid the London Living Wage - £8.80.

"We are pleased agreement has been reached with the union through this process," they added.

Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

FDM Group: Business and Technical IT Consultants – London, Manchester, Glasgow

21,000-24,000: FDM Group: Kick-start your career and join FDM’s award-winning ...

FDM Group: Business and Technical IT Consultants – Birmingham

21,000-24,000: FDM Group: Kick-start your career and join FDM’s award-winning ...

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there