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SOAS – the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London – is to stop outsourcing its core support services including security to contractors from September 2018. That means staff in central facilities teams will be directly employed by the university, with the full workforce put on equal terms and conditions. SOAS says it’s one of the first UK universities to end outsourcing and self-deliver its core services. This covers more than 120 staff in outsourced cleaning; catering; conferencing and events hospitality; portering; security; mechanical and electrical services; post room; help desk and reception. Not covered are lift maintenance; waste management; fire safety and protection; and independent inspections and testing; the school is looking into those.
Russell Square-based SOAS has told its two private contractors Elior (which does catering and hospitality) and Bouygues (which manages all other core support services) it will end their current contracts by the start of the 2018/19 academic year.
SOAS Director Baroness Amos, a Labour life peer, said: “This is a right decision for the institution. We already guarantee the London Living Wage for all our staff whether contracted externally or not. Now putting our whole workforce on same terms and conditions reflects our values of social justice and equality. Our support staff help to make the university tick and we could not deliver on our teaching and research agenda or offer an excellent student experience without them.
“Our staff and students have campaigned passionately for this. It has been a challenging journey at times but they have enabled us to get to this point. We look forward to a strong partnership with trade unions over the coming 12 months as this is vital to a smooth transition and ensuring we make this change a success.”
All staff working at SOAS, outsourced or directly employed, are already paid the London Living Wage or above (set at £9.75 an hour).