[UK] High Court dismisses collective bargaining case

A case brought by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) has been dismissed by the High Court, Personnel Today reports.

The IWGB brought the collective bargaining case - claiming outsourced employees should have the right to negotiate pay and conditions with employers - on behalf of 75 workers. Among them were porters, security guards and postroom staff working for Cordant, a security company under contract to the University of London.

The union’s claim states that the workers should be able to directly negotiate terms and conditions with the university because it is their de facto employer, in addition to Cordant.

The IWGB brought the collective bargaining case to the High Court on Monday on behalf of 75 workers, including security guards, post room workers and porters who work for Cordant, a security company contracted to the University of London.

The union claims that the university is the de facto employer of the outsourced workers, as well as Cordant, so they should be able to negotiate terms and conditions directly.

In November 2017, the landmark case was seen before the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC). The CAC ruled that the union could not be recognised for collective bargaining purposes. Workers then went on strike to protest the finding and the High Court gave permission for a judicial review in August 2018, as Personnel Today previously reported.

The union cited Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights - granting workers the right to join trade unions and to collectively bargain with their employers. However, Mr Justice Supperstone at the new High Court hearing dismissed the union’s case, ruling that this was not a breach of human rights law.

“There is, in my view, relevant and sufficient reasons for limiting the right to compulsory collective bargaining to workers and their employers,” he said. Adding that the University of London had the right to outsource work to companies “in the most efficient and beneficial manner”.

A win for the union could have set a precedent for the UK’s 3.3million outsourced workers to demand collective bargaining rights.

Jason Moyer-Lee - general secretary of the IWGB - said the union would “...continue to fight in both the courts and the workplace until they are brought in-house and treated equally with their directly employed colleagues”.