Union to take on government in ‘landmark’ outsourcing case

10 Aug 18

An independent workers’ union will take on the government in a ‘landmark’ legal challenge, which could extend rights for outsourced staff.

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain has been granted a judicial review against a decision by the government body that oversees regulation of UK labour law, the Central Arbitration Committee.

The decision bars the union from representing a group of workers indirectly employed at the University of London.

The judicial review, granted by the High Court on Tuesday, could have implications for some 3.3 million outsourced workers in the UK.

Workers at UoL including security guards, post room workers, porters and receptionists should be able to negotiate with the university as it is their de-facto employer rather than their actual employer, facilities management firm Cordant Security.

Cordant security employees do not receive the same benefits as those who are directly employed by the university, the union has argued.

The judicial review case is on the grounds that the decision by CAC is in breach of article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights - the right to form trade unions.

The legal challenge is against the CAC but the High Court will also allow the University of London, Cordant Security and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to intervene as interested parties.

IWGB president Henry Chango Lopez said: “The fact that vast swathes of the establishment, including the government, are joining forces to try and defeat our challenge is further proof of its importance.

“As a former University of London outsourced worker, I am keenly aware of the truth behind the fiction of outsourcing.

“It is no more and no less than a way to deny workers their rights, and it is about time we cleaned it up.”

The High Court has not granted IWGB cost protection, meaning that if it loses the case, it can be made to pay for the legal costs of all interested parties.

To cover potential legal liabilities the union is crowd funding, with support from legal campaign group, the Good Law Project.

Good Law Project founder Jo Maugham said: “There are many ways bad employers dodge the cost of workers’ rights and outsourcing can be one of them.

“The treatment of workers with modest bargaining power and little influence can be hidden from view, but it shouldn’t be hidden from the law through faceless outsourcing companies.”

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