City University must bring catering and cleaning contracts back in-house, says UNISON  

Thursday 3 June 2021
For immediate release

City University must bring catering and cleaning contracts back in-house, says UNISON

One hundred and fifty cleaning and catering staff who work at City, University of London handed in a petition yesterday (Wednesday) calling for better wages, annual leave, and sick pay.

They’re among nearly 2,000 people who’ve signed the document urging the university to end years of inequality and bring outsourced staff back in-house, as part of a UNISON-led campaign.

The workers – the majority of whom are Black* – are employed by private contractors Julius Rutherfoord & Co (cleaning) and Sodexo (catering) on inferior contracts to those staff who work directly for the university.

Outsourced staff receive less annual leave, reduced maternity pay and only have access to sick pay if they’re off for more than four days, says the union.

The campaign, which UNISON has been working on since 2019, has also received support from the university’s student union.

Outsourced cleaner Lydia Sule said: “We’re just as much a part of City as any other members of staff. I’ve worked here for 23 years but some of my colleagues have been here even longer. It doesn’t feel right we don’t have the same rights as other staff.

“Everybody working at the university should get the same sick pay, same holiday, and same pension. We’re all part of the City community and we should all have the same rights.”

UNISON branch secretary Damien Frettsome said: “The cost of using private contractors to supply cleaning and catering services is only competitive because staff are employed on worse rates of pay, and inferior contracts to other City staff.

“The disparity between City employees and outsourced workers is not only unfair, it’s also discriminatory. It goes against the university’s commitment to equality and diversity. City University should listen to its staff, students and local community and bring the workers back in-house.”

Notes to editors: 
– 1,988 people have signed the petition.
– City University’s current cleaning contract is up for renewal in July.
– Directly employed City staff get sick pay from the first day they’re ill but cleaners and caterers receive no sick pay unless they’re off for more than four days. City staff get 42 days holiday, outsourced staff just 28. City staff receive yearly salary increments. Most cleaning and catering staff are on a flat salary, regardless of how long they’ve worked. City staff receive 20 weeks of full pay when on maternity leave, plus 13 weeks of statutory maternity pay. Outsourced cleaners and caterers get only 6 weeks at 90% of their full pay and then 33 weeks of statutory maternity pay (which is less than £150 per week).
-*UNISON uses the term Black in a broad, political and inclusive way for people with a shared history and experience of racism and reduced opportunities. The use of the term Black is broadly consistent with the term BAME.

Media contact:
Emma Davey M: 07432 733187 E: