socialmedia linkedinsocialmedia twitter

background courses

High Court challenge to broaden outsourced workers’ rights

on Friday, 10 August 2018.

High Court challenge to broaden outsourced workers’ rights

The High Court has granted the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) permission to judicially review a decision by the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) to not hear an application for trade union recognition with the University of London.

The case stems from a group of 75 workers, including porters and receptionists, who were supplied to the University through facilities company Cordant Security. As such, they do not receive the same benefits as those employed directly by the institution.

The IWGB brought the case to the CAC to require the University to recognise the union for the purpose of collective bargaining on behalf of some of its outsourced workers. 

The law to date has been interpreted as only allowing workers to collectively bargain with their direct employer – in this case, Cordant Security, not the University.

However, the IWGB believe that, if it is successful in arguing that outsourced workers should be able to bargain with their de-facto employer, up to 3.3 million workers could be entitled to collectively bargain with their de-facto employer and their direct employer. The move could introduce the concept of joint-employer to UK law.

The IWGB believes that by denying outsourced workers the right to collectively bargain with the University – the de-facto employer – it is a breach of article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

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 judicial review is against two CAC decisions about not allowing trade union recognition – first with the University of London and second with Cordant Security. The High Court is also allowing the University of London, Cordant Security and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to intervene as interested parties in this High Court case.

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 denied the union cost protection, which means that if it loses it could be held liable for the legal costs of the CAC, Cordant Security, the university and the government. As such, it has launched a crowdfunding campaign to support the case.