Tag Archives: picket lines

Cleaning up Outsourcing with the UVW

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The good news is that when your job is transferred from one company to another, you’re protected by a piece of legislation called the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006, or TUPE for short.

The bad news is that lots of stuff: employer pension contributions, childcare voucher schemes, flexible working arrangements, the location of your office; isn’t protected by TUPE.

The good news is that your contractual terms and conditions: pay, holiday entitlement, period of continuous employment; are all protected by TUPE.

The bad news is that any of your protection under TUPE can be overridden if there’s an economic, technical or organisational (ETO) justification, and boy, are the big outsourcing companies good at finding one of those.

If you’re being outsourced then there’s never been a better time to join a trade union.

Back in 2015 we told you about Mrs Windsor’s Geraniums when our mate Phil, a GMB rep at the time, took the Royal Parks gardeners out on strike after they were outsourced to OCS, who promptly found an ETO justification to strip everyone of two weeks pay a year as well as taking liberties with a number of other terms and conditions.

Now, new kids on the block, the United Voices of the World are bringing Royal Parks workers back out. The parks’ cleaners are demanding a living wage, sick pay and a proper holiday entitlement. It should be a matter of national shame that people indirectly employed by the monarch earn a pitiful £8.21 per hour.

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Every picket line should have one

Me and Funky Lol caught up with the UVW on their picket line at the University of Greenwich this week.[1] There the café workers have already shamed hospitality outsourcing firm Baxter Storey into paying them a living wage, now they’re demanding sick pay and an end to under-staffing after one chef collapsed and had to be admitted to hospital after an 80-hour week.

But they’re not going to stop there. UVW members, who are mainly migrant workers, women and first time union members and strikers are taking action right across the capital. They include the cleaners at St Mary’s Hospital (Sodhexo), the cleaners, security guards and receptionists at the Ministry of Justice (OCS), the security guards at the University of East London [2], the security guards at St George’s University (Noonan) and the cleaners at 200 Grays Inn Road, home of ITN, ITV and Channel 4.

The UVW know what they’re doing, they’re making the invisible visible, giving a voice to the voiceless, standing up for the very people without whom the city would just grind to a halt.

A change is coming; we know a song about that.

Steve

[1] We might’ve sung them a few songs

[2] A strange twist. The security guards at the University of East London have been taken back in house, but TUPE-ed back to their original employer on their worsened, outsourced contracts.

2015

From picket lines to private parties, it’s been an interesting year for the Protest Family. Gigs for workers on indefinite strike at both Lambeth College and the National Gallery turned into celebrations at the successful conclusion of their disputes; UCU members fighting off new contracts for existing staff and the National Gallery strikers winning on all of their demands except privatisation of the gallery, including re-instatement of their union rep Candy Unwin.

Singing Bad Day For Bojo over and over again outside Leytonstone station may not have halted the tide of Boris Johnson’s ticket office closures but an early start on the RMT/ASLEF picket line did see the network brought to a standstill along with the mayor’s plans to push through the introduction of the Night Tube. We all want the tube to run all night, let’s hope that now we can have it safely, and delivered by workers whose work/life balance is protected by well-negotiated contracts.

Both private parties were wakes, one for a comrade who was already dead, the other for the woman who stuck around long enough to have two living wakes a year apart and one more Tolpuddle Festival than she thought she was going to get. We lost Sonja in September, a great friend, an indefatigable campaigner and a great advocate of the band. She badgered Billy Bragg ceaselessly on our behalf and the ultimate fruits of her labour may yet still be to be seen.

Festival sound engineers ranged from the nonchalant to the point of not caring in Plumstead to the brilliantly professional at Rhythms Of The World in Hitchin to the absolutely nothing is too much trouble of Matt from Wilding Sound in Walthamstow who helped us out so much at this year’s Matchwomen’s Festival. Festival weather had its ups and downs too, glorious sunshine in Canning Town but an absolute soaking for our audience in Hitchin who were at least treated to the rain stopping by the end of our set.

Two gigs at The Sov this year (one unplugged) was bettered by three We Shall Overcome gigs. Well for me and Doug at least, as we provided the opening entertainment at We Shall Overcome What’s Cookin’ on the band’s day off between gigs at the Bread & Roses and Ye Olde Rose & Crown. That’ll make three gigs at the Leytonstone Ex-Servicemen’s Club too if you count that one along with An Evening Of Radical Entertainment for the Leytonstone Festival in July and the Christmas What’s Cookin’ show with Graham Larkbey & The Escape Committee.

How we got the whole of The Protest Family, The Escape Committee and former member Rory on stage for the encore at What’s Cookin’ I’ll never know. However my favourite stage invader this year has to be Attila The Stockbroker who joined us on fiddle at this year’s Stowfest gig and exclaimed “I wish I’d thought of that” from the side of the stage during George of The Jungle so loud that the whole room heard. We even got him to play Sean Thornton with us.

We’ve got high hopes for George of The Jungle now that we’ve got a recording and accompanying video for it, but we’re wide-eyed naifs in the world of Getting Your Thing To Go Viral. We’re sharing it with everyone we can think of, but we don’t have industry chums or influential pals and we’re dubious about the ethics of the whole world of plugging, not that we have a budget anyway. So it’s a wing and a prayer, a lot of hard work behind the scenes with little idea of it’s value, and a We’ll See. Pay Your Tax got a few thousand views on YouTube quite early on then came to a massive standstill. Who knows what George of The Jungle will do?

But this is supposed to be a round-up of our year. Unplugged at The Sov might have been unplanned, but this was the year that we found our unplugged voice. It’s how we rehearse, but we’d not really pulled it off successfully until last year’s birthday party. This year the unplugged Family’s had a few outings: Show Culture Some Love at Congress House, Hove Folk Club, and of course on the picket line. It’s been very rewarding to do and it’s definitely another string to our bow.

So, more unplugged in 2016, more gigs out of town (watch out Glossop!) and more banjo (maybe). There’s a new album in us too, we’ve nearly got all the songs. Hopefully we’ll do that next year too.

Steve