Despite a commitment to bring all staff in-house by the 29th of August 2018, SOAS outsourced all but one of the security staff at the first late license event of the year. This event took place on the 28th of September in the JCR and bar. SOAS also hired outsourced security staff for the Black Queer Magic late license on the 5th of October.
SOAS stated that “[in-house] SOAS staff were offered the opportunity at the agreed extra rates of pay for after-hours work, and in practice, only one member of staff wished to take on this additional work.” Thus, SOAS required additional staff for the safety of students attending the event.
“The School cannot expect the in-house staff to work as they not providing fair working conditions.”
SOAS committed to bringing all workers in-house on the 4th of August 2017 and has been liaising with private contractors for the past year, though it does not appear to have a system for organising in-house staff for late-night events. Soph Bennett, Activities and Events Co-President, was responsible for organising the first event. However, the Estates team arranged the security staff. Bennett explained that, according to the security staff, “they didn’t want to work as they are not paid bouncers rates for these shifts, but the same hourly rate as a normal day shift.” Bennett suggests it was not clear to staff that they would be paid extra for this work.
An in-house security staff member, who wished to remain anonymous, explained that he feels SOAS views day-time and late-night bar security as the same job. He thought he would have to wear the same uniform and carry out similar tasks, which would not give the staff adequate authority. He said that although many students feel safer with known security guards, he and other in-house security staff no longer want to work late night shifts for personal and other reasons.
Bennett claims that SOAS must provide its in-house security staff with “fair pay for the work they are doing,” “the correct training and insurance to act,” and “written protection from the school, outlining what they can and cannot do in the event of an incident.” Without these conditions, Bennett believes that “the school cannot expect the in-house staff to work as they not providing fair working conditions.”
Both Bennett and the in-house security staff member praised the outsourced workers at the event, with Bennett adding that they were “outstanding.”
The school made it clear that SOAS “did not in any way breach any arrangements for our in-house team providing security for SOAS events.” They “brought in additional staff with a good knowledge and understanding of SOAS to work with the in-house team,” and this was necessary for the event to occur safely.
SOAS Justice for Workers campaign did not respond to a request for comment.