BY JAMES TWOMEY
Security guards and around 100 students took part in a protest at a university last week over outsourcing and discriminatory treatment of security officers.
The protest was organised by the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) union, which says Goldsmiths University’s policy of outsourcing its security guards denies them the equal working privileges which Goldsmiths staff enjoy.
An IWGB spokesman said: “The outsourcing company with the contract to provide security services at Goldsmiths, CIS, does not offer the contractual benefits that the university does to its in-house staff, including occupational sick pay, improved maternity and paternity leave, and university pensions.”
Kolawole Kasali, a security officer at Goldsmiths, said: “At the moment if I’m sick or if I get injured I won’t get any sick pay for the first three days I am off, so many of us end up working when we are unwell in order to be able to earn enough money to survive. We work day and night, often on 12-hour shifts. It shouldn’t be like this, we are all human beings and we shouldn’t be treated differently from the directly employed staff at Goldsmiths. That’s why the university needs to bring us in-house.”
Around 100 security guards and supporters marched through the university chanting “Goldsmiths shame on you”.
The group then protested outside the office of Goldsmiths’ Warden and chief executive Patrick Loughrey.
George Briley, an MRes student in the Anthropology department, said: “Today Goldsmiths students showed that they get it, they get that exploitation of workers is toxic for the whole campus, they get that the callousness of managements’ treatment of this predominantly BME workforce is symptomatic of wider issues on campus.
“We stand united with our security, in solidarity as members of the same community. By not engaging with the IWGB, management has placed itself out of step with the wider college, it does not act in our name nor in our interest, and we will stand together to make our voices heard.”
Goldsmiths announced it would insource its previously outsourced cleaning staff last year, however its security contract remains outsourced to CIS, as it has been for more than 15 years. The IWGB union will be seeking statutory recognition via the Central Arbitration Committee.
A spokesman for Goldsmiths, University of London, said: “The IWGB is not a union formally recognised by Goldsmiths or CIS, the current contract holders for our security provision. Goldsmiths management will however be meeting with Unison, the recognised union for in-house support staff, to discuss these matters.
“As with all services, we will review options as we approach the end of the current contract.”
The protest was supported by the Goldsmiths Students union and the Goldsmiths branch of university teachers union UCU.
Michael Bukola, chairman of the IWGB’s Security Guards and Receptionists branch, said: “Goldsmiths claims to be an institution based on equality, diversity and inclusivity – yet, even after the cleaners have been brought back in-house, we’re still being excluded from the ‘One Goldsmiths’ family. We want the university to sit down with us, listen to our demands and bring us back in-house where we belong.”