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Conferences ditch UoL as lecturers show solidarity with cleaners’ struggle

The University of London (UoL)’s dispute with IWGB members over bringing cleaning contracts back in-house ratcheted up a notch today as a major history conference dropped plans to hold the event at UoL’s Senate House in solidarity with an ongoing boycott.

The 19th Century Studies Graduate Conference announced in a Tweet and open letter that “in solidarity with the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain boycott of Senate House regarding the outsourcing of their staff, we have changed the venue of the conference to Arts Two Lecture Theatre, Mile End Campus, Queen Mary University.”

The event, which is taking place on January 28th, is in its sixth year an works as an inter-disciplinary forum for postgraduate researchers looking into 19th century history.

Shortly afterwards the conference organisers were joined in dumping the venue by by participants at the booklaunch of The European Avant-Gardes, 1905-1935 by Sascha Bru. Scott McCracken Tweeted: “To support the campaign against outsourcing at Senate House, we are changing the venue.”

Nearly 300 lecturers, plus pliticians, councillors, union branches and public figures have signed up to support the boycott, which was opened in October when the university told organisers they would not be brought back in-house until 2020 at the earliest.

Outsourced workers at the University of London have been campaigning to be made direct employees with equal terms and conditions as other staff for over a year and have taken extensive strike action.

Instead of agreeing to negotiate with the workers, the majority of which are migrant and BME, the university has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on heightened security in an attempt to stave off industrial action and protests.

After initially stating that it would bring services in-house last May, the university has now gone back on its commitment, only guaranteeing that a small portion of the workforce will be made direct employees while maintenance, cleaners and catering workers remain outsourced until at least until their contracts are up for tender in 2019, 2020 and 2021. At that point an in-house bid will be presented alongside other commercial bids.

Events make up a significant proportion of the university’s income. According to its latest financial report, the University of London made £43 million from residences, catering and conferences in the year ending July 2018.

To find the full list of signatories and stay up to date on the campaign go to the Boycott Senate House campaign page.

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