UNISON cleaners and maintenance staff at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London (SOAS) have begun a two-day strike today in a long-running dispute over terms and conditions.
The 50-plus workers, who are employed by ISS Facility Services, receive only statutory sick pay and the statutory minimum annual leave, yet colleagues who are employed directly by SOAS receive contractual sick pay, 30 days annual leave and a defined benefits pension scheme.
UNISON balloted its members for industrial action following a series of negotiations and meetings, which ended with ISS refusing to make an offer to improve terms and conditions.
Members returned a 100% vote in favour of strike action. The ISS staff have received strong support from their colleagues working for SOAS and from the students, who understand how important their work is.
UNISON regional organiser Ruth Levin said: “We know that our campaign against the two-tier workforce created by ISS is growing in strength and support.
“SOAS as an institution claims to deal with pressing issues such as democracy, human rights and poverty. Yet here we have a situation where it is failing to deal with a pressing issue that is sitting on its doorstep.
“UNISON is calling on ISS to get back around the table, with no strings attached, to resolve this dispute. SOAS must use its influence to intervene to improve terms and conditions for all staff on campus.”