• International Workplace
  • 27 March 2019

“Joint employer status” rejected

In a long-standing case involving outsourced workers, the High Court has rejected the argument that outsourced workers should be entitled to negotiate over pay rates and job terms with both their employer and the employer's client.

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) had sought a judicial review of a decision by the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) to not hear an application for trade union recognition for the purposes of collective bargaining with the University of London.

This has been rejected by the High Court by Mr Justice Supperstone, who said:

“There is, in my view relevant and sufficient reasons for limiting the right to compulsory collective bargaining to workers and their employers.” He added that university had the right to make outsourcing arrangements as it saw fit “in the most efficient and beneficial manner”.

The case concerns security guards, post room staff and porters employed on contract by Cordant Services, with the union making the case for the university being seen as their ‘de facto employer’.

IWGB general secretary Jason Moyer-Lee said:

“The University of London, with considerable help from the Tory government, may have won the battle. But when it comes to the exploitative, discriminatory and fundamentally unfair practice of outsourcing it is the war that the IWGB is fighting to win. Outsourced workers at the University of London and elsewhere will continue to fight in both the courts and in the workplace until they are brought in-house and treated equally with their directly employed colleagues.”

The IWGB objected in particular to the fact that the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy was permitted to weigh in on the case on the university’s side.

Chris Kenneally, CEO of Cordant Group, said:

“The Judicial Review was brought against the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and CAC, not against Cordant Security or the University of London, and was in no way based upon any claim that either party had operated unlawfully. We note the decision of the Judge and will remain focused on how we can support our staff who deliver an exceptional service for the University and our other clients throughout the UK.”