In a recent College Council decision, King’s opted to bring cleaners and security staff back in-house and on the university’s payroll.
Changes will come into effect in 2019 at the end of the current agreement with Servest, an external cleaning and security company contracted by King’s.
Cleaners and security staff have been agitating for such change since their services were first outsourced. Multiple protests organised by public service union Unison as well as student advocacy group KCL Justice for Cleaners, as well as a strike in 2017 with a 90% participation rate, have helped put pressure on the university. Similar campaigns have taken place at SOAS, LSE, and Goldsmiths, with Goldsmiths recently opting to move cleaners in-house.
Unison has cited poor working conditions, lack of equipment, unfair work allocation, and poor sick pay as reasons for leaving Servest. In 2017, Roar reported on such working conditions in an exclusive interview.
In a statement to the university, Principal Ed Byrne said “I’m delighted to announce that King’s has made the decision to bring its cleaners and security staff in-house at the end of our current contracts with Servest and CIS in 2019.
“The process of making these teams King’s employees is complex, and will take time. However, our Revenue and Expenditure Review Committee (RERC) and College Council agree that this should be done as soon as practicably and legally possible. Bringing the people who deliver these vital services onto our payroll and properly into the King’s community is the right thing to do.
“I would like to acknowledge the heartfelt campaigning by everyone who felt so strongly that King’s should make sure these service-providers are part of the King’s family. I also want to acknowledge the people who worked so hard to produce proposals that could make this possible.”
KCL Justice for Cleaners wrote on their Facebook page ‘This is the cleaners victory! Since Servest took over and reduced the number of staff in half, they’ve been overworked, discriminated and intimidated. But their resilience and thirst for justice is bigger than any neoliberal greed.”
At the moment, the process of moving cleaners in-house has yet to be determined and will likely involve ongoing negotiations throughout the following year.