By Ben Wilson
At a time when many are struggling to make ends meet, a growing movement has formed demanding better working conditions for staff working at the University of London. Dubbed the â€˜Summer of Actionâ€™, the campaign sees ULU, the pre-existing â€˜3 Cosasâ€™ campaign and the Industrial Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) combine to take part in â€˜a mix of demonstrations, actions and eventsâ€™.
According to a statement released by ULU, â€œWorkers and students have lobbied, petitioned, protested and rallied, for demands as basic as humane conditions and benefits at work.â€
â€œThe University has been content to maintain a situation in which workers are effectively penalized for getting sick or injured, unable to take time to visit relatives and friends, and are expected to retire into poverty without a pension.â€
Subsequently the weeks commencing May 27th, June 3rd, June 10th, June 24th, July 8th and July 15th have been declared to be â€˜Action Weeksâ€™, with the promise that â€œFurther weeks will be announced until progress is made in meeting the three demands. The actions will not stop until victory.â€
Said three demands are those outlined by the â€˜3 Cosasâ€™ campaign (Spanish for â€˜3 Thingsâ€™) focussing upon equality of sick pay, holiday entitlement and pensions for all staff of UoL, but primarily for outsourced workers who see few of the vocational benefits so many take for granted.
According to Sonia Chura, a cleaner at Hughes Parry Resident Hall, â€œWe outsourced workers donâ€™t have a dignified pension, we donâ€™t have sick pay, and we donâ€™t have the same amount of holidays as the direct employees of the University.â€
Sonia and the â€˜3 Cosasâ€™ Campaign first came to the attention of Roar! back in March of this year, when SOAS PhD Economics student Gilad Isaacs wrote about bureaucratic attempts to stall the campaign in a piece entitled â€˜Electoral Scandal at University of London UNISON Branchâ€™.
According to the article it took months of campaigning on the part of activist workers just to secure the London Living Wage of Â£8.55 per hour as a basic minimum rate.
Ms Chura, who is a member of the IWGB, argues â€œIt is an absolute disgrace that in the 21st century the workers at a university as prestigious as the University of London donâ€™t have these benefits.â€
Meanwhile, Vice President of ULU Daniel Lemberg Cooper has stated that â€œso far the campaign has received widespread and enthusiastic support from students all across the University of London collegesâ€
He went on to claim that â€œthere is a real groundswell of opinion in favour of the workersâ€™ demands for sickpay, holidays and pensions, and a strong feeling that the University cannot stand back any longer from granting humane working conditions for all its staff.â€
In lieu of recent events at ULU and the decision of the University of London Council to close it down in its political capacity, this could very well be the last significant act on the part of the University of London Union. Depending upon its success, the â€˜Summer of Actionâ€™ could very well prove to be either ULUâ€™s swan song, or its saving grace.
To join the facebook group of the â€˜Summer of Actionâ€™ campaign use the following link: https://www.facebook.com/events/184515785036985/
To find out more details on the â€˜3 Cosasâ€™ campaign you can find their website here: https://sites.google.com/site/3cosascampaign/que-queremos
To read Gilad Isaacâ€™s article â€˜Electoral Scandal at University of London UNISON Branchâ€™ on the Roar! website use the following link: https://roarnews.co.uk/?p=3425