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3.3 Million Outsourced Workers Await Joint-Employer Judicial Review

08 August 2018 | Updated 09 August 2018

IWGB union is to have its day in court to face the Government in landmark case to extend the rights of outsourced workers.

The High Court has granted the Independent Workers of Great Britain union a judiciall review the Central Arbitration Committee's (CAC) refusal to hear an application for trade union recognition at the University of London (UOL).

The case could open the door for 3.3 million outsourced workers throughout the UK to negotiate directly what the IWGB describes as their 'de-facto' employer. (The IWGB claims that employees of outsourced companies such as Cordant, who operate at UOL, should be able to negotiate both with their direct employer and also the University.)

The union is launching acrowdfunding appeal, backed by the Good Law Project, to cover potential legal liabilities that could reach the hundreds of thousands of pounds.

While the judicial review is against two CAC decisions, the High Court is also allowing the University of London, Cordant Security and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to intervene as interested parties.

This means the union will be facing legal arguments and lawyers from four different bodies.

The IWGB initially brought the landmark case to the CAC to require the University of London to recognise the union for the purposes of collective bargaining on behalf of some of its outsourced workers in November 2017.

The law to date has been interpreted as only allowing workers to collectively bargain with their direct employer, in this case facilities management company Cordant Security. But, if successful, the test case would open the door for 3.3 million workers throughout the UK to collectively bargain with their de-facto employer as well as their direct employer, introducing the concept of a joint-employer to UK law.

The IWGB is arguing that denying the outsourced workers the right to collectively bargain with the University is a breach of article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The proposed collective bargaining unit would include security officers, porters and post room workers.

The IWGB has also been granted permission for a review into the CAC decision to not hear an application for trade union recognition with contract company Cordant Security.

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.”

Good law Project founder Jolyon Maugham QC 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 the use of faceless outsourcing companies. I’m proud to be supporting this case that will ensure that domestic law protects the human rights of some of the most vulnerable workers in the UK.”

The IWGB is being represented by solicitors from Harrison Grant and barristers John Hendy QC and Sarah Fraser Butlin.

Picture: The IWGB has been campaigning to end outsourcing at the University of London since September 2017.​


Article written by Cathryn Ellis | Published 08 August 2018


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