At least four cleaners who attended a peaceful protest at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) have been informed they will be suspended from work pending investigation.
Cleaners, security guards and porters protested last Thursday at LSHTM after the University committed to bringing outsourced workers in house, but planned to pay them nearly £500 p.a. below the lowest rung of the University’s pay structure.
Rene, a cleaner who was suspended after the protest said, “I worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic for my university, and was still refused a dignified salary after all my hard work. When we came together to peacefully ask for management to listen to us, to hear our needs and concerns, they responded by suspending me from work. The disrespect LSHTM has for people like me cuts deeply. I am treated as a second class citizen, and when I try to raise my voice, I am punished.”
After 30 workers and supporters staged a demonstration outside of the University’s main entrance, supporters peacefully entered the building to deliver a message to management offices. The University, which has a documented history of racial inequality, called the police on its workers, though no action was taken by police officers and demonstrators left the premises shortly after.
On the day of the protest, LSHTM sent communications warning about the planned action, mentioning that there would be increased security at that time. This stands in stark contrast to a similar communication sent regarding the University and College Union (UCU) strikes, which informed staff of senior management’s intentions to meet with staff and resolve the dispute.
Amidst the cost of living crisis, outsourced workers are demanding to be brought onto the LSHTM pay scale on grade 3 level pay (£14.30), which maintenance workers currently earn.
Henry Chango Lopez, General Secretary (IWGB) said, “These cleaners are fighting for dignified pay and an end to discrimination, the bare minimum we would expect from a prestigious institution such as London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. It is absolutely unacceptable that the University has responded to a peaceful protest by calling the police, lying about the nature of the demonstration, and then suspending its staff. This is a blatant act of aggression and an attempt to intimidate cleaners into backing down. We remain unfazed, and the suspended workers will continue to fight for the pay and treatment they deserve, undeterred by the hostile reaction of the University.”
If the suspensions are not immediately reversed, the IWGB will take legal action against LSHTM subcontractor Regent Samsic over trade union detriment, for breach of sec. 146 of TURLCA (1992) and Article 11 of ECHR.