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UVW at the Court of Appeal to defend historic win against the Royal Parks over institutional racism  

On 20 and 21 February, United Voices of the World union (UVW) will be at the Court of Appeal of a landmark legal claim about outsourcing against the Royal Parks.

This is the third round of UVW’s legal battle to prove that outsourcing mainly Black, brown and migrant workers on inferior pay to mainly white in-house workers is race discrimination. The union movement is eagerly awaiting the outcome of this landmark lawsuit, as a win could lead to the dismantling of the outsourcing model and the redistribution of wealth to the low paid sub-contracted and precarious workers.

UVW’s 2021 win established that the decision by the Royal Parks not to pay the almost exclusively Black and brown outsourced workers the London Living Wage (LLW) from 2014-2019 amounted to indirect race discrimination because paying outsourced workers less money than in-house staff disadvantaged the predominantly Black park attendants.

In 2014, Vinci Construction offered Royal Parks two contract options, one requiring that cleaners were paid the LLW. RP chose the option which did not require the LLW despite the fact that their own staff were paid at least that amount. The workers were directly employed by Vinci Construction (and now Just Ask Services).

The Tribunal rejected the Royal Parks’ attempt to justify their practices on the basis of affordability, as they had failed to provide any evidence whatsoever that suggested that they could not afford to pay the workers the LLW. The outsourced staff were not paid the LLW until early 2020.

UVW, a small union representing low-paid, precarious and migrant workers, is the first union in the country to end outsourcing through strike action and the first in the country to try and do so through legal action. UNW has had similar claims against the Ministry of Justice, Great Ormond Street Hospital and Saint George’s.

Petros Elia, UVW’s General Secretary said: “The Royal Park’s legal claim is one of the most significant workers’ rights cases for a generation. We are asking: Is outsourcing Black, brown and migrant workers on worse pay and T&Cs than white in-house workers institutional racism? After two previous rounds in the Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal we are neck and neck with one win and one loss. Now it’s up to the Court of Appeal to decide what could be the final round. This is a highly political case that could crumble one of the principal columns of the labour market that props up and perpetuates inequality. It could redistribuie billions of pounds to low-paid workers across the country, and effectively ring the death knell of outsourcing as we know it.”

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