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King's are considering the decision to bring cleaners in house

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Earlier this month, King's management held a meeting to consider the option of bringing cleaners in-house.

The King's campaign, Justice for Cleaners, has been hard at work for three years organising a series of protests in support of the cleaners.

The group is made up of students, cleaners and academics.

J4C want cleaners and security are brought in-house (employed directly by the university) rather than outsourcing them from contractors. They will be given the same rights and benefits as other members of staff.

According to KCL's Contracts and Performance Manager, Tristam Slater said that the principal has made a promise 'to look at options for providing our cleaning and security people with parity of their core terms and conditions with our employees.'

The KCL J4C’s reaction to the meeting is optimistic.

“We are positive about what we have heard about the meeting, where in-house was considered favourably,” announced the campaign’s spokesperson.

“However, the decision will only be solidified on 26th September at College Council,” they added.

Should an in-house verdict not happen, campaigners fear that the other option reviewed - the vehicle model - will be chosen instead. This alternative would not offer workers the same quality of employment conditions, according to the campaign.

“The two options are in-house or a “vehicle model” that basically means creating a distinct company to manage the facilities services. This doesn’t offer parity, nor does it make the cleaners feel as though they belong to the wider community,” a spokesperson for the campaign told TNS.

Kings’ cleaners are currently outsourced by leading UK facilities management company Servest.

A mini-documentary released by two King's students shows the frustration of the cleaners.

“If they chose a hybrid model, King’s will continue to avoid responsibility for the wellbeing of migrant workers and put the blame on Servest, when the abuse is happening on our campuses,” the spokesperson told TNS.

Campaigners have taken countless actions across the years including a 9-day occupation of the management building during the UCU pensions strike.

Publicly shaming the university, disrupting day-to-day activities, creating solidarity with other campaigns, holding open meetings, targeting high-level university events, flyering and lecture shout-outs have all contributed to the progress.

“All the events and actions were jointly organised with the cleaners and we always made it clear the campaign is workers led."

The campaign is said to have united the university’s diverse community by showing the connections between each person’s struggles.

“Exorbitant tuition fees, turning students into customers, poor mental health facilities for students, pension cuts or casualisation of teaching stuff, are all a result of neoliberal structures of academia and the favouring of profits over the learning experience. We’re all in this together.

“We’re all in this together. The fight of migrant cleaners is everyone’s struggle,” the spokesperson added.

KCL Justice For Cleaners is not the only one of its kind. It took inspiration from two similar campaigns, SOAS Justice for Workers and Justice for LSE Cleaners, who have both been successful in ending outsourcing at their university.

Last week, Goldsmiths announced that it will be bringing cleaners in-house.

In reaction to an unofficial decision from management, J4C publicly announced that they will "maintain pressure on KCL to ensure that in-house is the firm conclusion."

The campaign will host another rally outside the College Council meeting on the 26th of September where a final decision is anticipated.

Featured images courtesy of Robert Liow

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