In response to a recent Freedom of Information request, King’s College London has released 32 pages of minutes from the 2018 meetings of the Estates Strategy Committee and College Council.
The documents were released at the request of KCL Justice for Cleaners (KCLJ4C) campaign leader and Middle Eastern Studies postgrad Simona Simion.
Of the 32 pages released, 25 pages were fully redacted and seven pages were partially redacted.
The only non-redacted section in the body of the College Council minutes read: “The chairman requested an update on cleaning staff pay and was advised that the joint process had resulted in a set of options and costs to explore. However it would be difficult to meet everyone’s expectations. This issue would need further discussion at Council as there would be an overage that was not in the current budget.”
KCLJ4C, the student-run advocacy group, has campaigned for the past several years to bring cleaners and security staff back on the university payroll for universities across London. Campaigning has taken place in partnership with public service union Unison, which has cited poor working conditions, lack of equipment, unfair work allocation, and poor sick pay as reasons to end outsourcing.
In September 2018, under pressure from KCLJ4C and Unison, the College Council agreed to bring cleaners back in-house on King’s payroll by 2019, when present contracts expire. In the meantime, King’s cleaners and security are still contracted from outside companies Servest and CIS. Roar did not receive any response from King’s PR regarding when such contracts would end.
For students who had campaigned to bring cleaners back in house, the redacted documents were met with irritation. A postgraduate student who did not wish to be named stated, “As a proxy for the student voice, King’s has the responsibility to be entirely transparent. It is the provider of education and services, both of which we, as students, pay for. The university should therefore be held to a high standard.”