7 August 2018 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
The High Court has given the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) permission to get a judicial review of the Central Arbitration Committee's (CAC) refusal to hear application for trade union recognition with the University of London.
While the judicial review is against two CAC decisions, the High Court is also allowing the University of London, Cordant Security and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to intervene as interested parties.
This means the union will be facing legal arguments and lawyers from four different bodies.
The IWGB initially brought the landmark case to the CAC to require the University of London to recognise the union for the purposes of collective bargaining on behalf of some of its outsourced workers in November.
The law to date has been interpreted as only allowing workers to collectively bargain with their direct employer, in this case facilities management company Cordant Security. But, if successful, the test case would open the door for 3.3 million workers throughout the UK to collectively bargain with their de facto employer as well as their direct employer, introducing the concept of a joint-employer to UK law.
The IWGB is arguing that denying the outsourced workers the right to collectively bargain with the university, which is their de facto employer, is a breach of article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The proposed collective bargaining unit would include security officers, porters and post room workers.
The IWGB has also been granted permission to judicially review a CAC decision to not hear an application for trade union recognition with contract company Cordant Security.
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. The final sum could be in the hundreds of thousands of pounds, and the union has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help with costs.
The Good Law Project is backing the crowdfunding campaign and has pledged an initial £5,000. The IWGB is represented by solicitors from Harrison Grant, and barristers John Hendy QC and Sarah Fraser Butlin.
The IWGB has been campaigning to end outsourcing at the University of London since September 2017, leading the biggest outsourced workers' strike in higher education last April.