Union takes action against university on grounds of discrimination against outsourced BAME staff

A union is bringing a “class action” style lawsuit against a number of employers who outsource BAME and migrant workers that earn less than in-house staff, on grounds of discrimination.

The United Voices of the World union (UVW) submitted a claim in an employment tribunal against St George’s University of London medical school in Tooting last week.

Its leaders have brought the same claim against Ark Globe Academy in Elephant and Castle – visited by President Barack Obama during a state visit in 2011 – arguing both workplaces had breached the Equality Act.

The union claims that an outsourced workforce of mostly BAME and migrant workers on lower pay rates and worse terms compared to in-house staff breaches their rights under the Equality Act not to be discriminated against on grounds of their race.

The outcome from a successful tribunal could redistribute billions of pounds to the UK’s 3.3 million outsourced workers, including cleaners and security guards, says the union.

Kazi Mohammad Oli Ullahwe, an outsourced security guard at St George’s, is from Bangladesh. He said he wanted the university to bring security guards in-house.

“We’ve asked for equality and they’ve refused to negotiate,” said Kazi.

“They say it’s not viable to make us university employees, but they have not explained why. They don’t treat us as equals.

“They treat us as second-class workers. All of us are ethnic minorities and we all feel discriminated against and harassed.

“Between our strike and this lawsuit, we will win justice and equality.”

In January this year security guards and other workers at St George’s went on strike outside the school.

A St George’s University of London spokesman said: “We have not been served with proceedings, so cannot comment on the alleged claims made at this stage.”

UVW is bringing the same claim against the Ark Globe Academy, part of the Ark Schools multi-academy trust.

The school has come under fire recently after the cleaning company it outsources its cleaners from was accused of “union busting,” and accusations of withholding PPE from staff if they did not leave the UVW union.

The school outsources cleaners through the Ridge Crest cleaning company, which had a senior member of staff caught on tape suggesting that PPE could be provided if they left the union.

Emma Macnebola, senior staff at Ridge Crest, was heard saying: “If we can move forward together, get you that London Living Wage, get you the face masks on-site and just drop the union and the campaign altogether and go back to work on Monday.”

An Ark Globe spokeswoman said: “Ark Globe has been in regular contact with senior management from Ridge Crest.

“Now that the recording has been made available, we expect Ridge Crest to complete a robust investigation and we await the outcome of that process.

“Ark Globe has extensive, proactive and positive working relationships with the many unions representing its employees, and is wholly supportive of union recognition agreements being put in place at Ridge Crest.

“The company has advised us that the comments attributed to one of their employees are not reflective of Ridge Crest’s position and that they are fully supportive of union membership for their employees.”

A Ridge Crest spokesman said: “Ridge Crest are committed to providing a safe and fair working environment for all of our team members.

‘We are supportive of trade union membership and welcome the contribution they can bring to the workplace.

“The health, safety and wellbeing of our staff is our number one priority and we will continue to engage with all staff to ensure that this is fully reflected throughout our organisation.”

Pictured top: A previous protest outside St George’s University of London medical school


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