Cleaners at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies went on strike for the third day last Friday in a bid to interms and conditions that are equivalent to other staff working at the University.
The UNISON membrerswere outsourced to ISS and under the terms of their contracts they receive statutory sick pay instead of the occupational sick pay offered to SOAS employees. They also receive the statutory minimum annual leave entitlement, which means they get less holiday than staff working directly for SOAS and do not have access to pension scheme that is equivalent to the that of university-employed colleages.
Members are seeking to be treated the same as other workers who provide services to students at SOAS, but negotiations with ISS have so far have failed to find a resolution.
“We are striking in the name of equal treatment, dignity and respect,” said Consuelo Moreno Yusti, one of the striking workers. “We are going on strike because it is inhumane to be forced to work when we are ill.
“We deserve to receive sick pay. We are striking because we condemn being treated differently. We condemn being outsourced workers in a university that promotes human rights and equal opportunities while ignoring and discriminating against us.”
UNISON Greater Londonhead of higher education Ruth Levin adde: “These members have campaigned long and hard for some basic improvements to their terms and conditions.
“No one should be unable to pay their basic bills because they fall sick. We hope that their employer, ISS, will now take this seriously and make a decent offer to settle this dispute.
“We are also calling on SOAS to intervene, if necessary, to improve the working lives for those cleaning the SOAS buildings.”