Charity's outsourcing decision was unlawful indirect race discrimination, tribunal rules

The union behind the case says the judgment is 'incredibly significant and historical' in the fight against outsourcing and institutional racism

A union has successfully argued that The Royal Parks charity’s outsourcing of an employment contract was unlawful indirect race discrimination.

The charity was set up by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport to administer and maintain the eight royal parks in London, including Hyde Park, St James's Park and Kensington Gardens.

The United Voices of the World union sought permission in June to argue it was unlawful that the charity entered into a contract with the employer of a black African cleaner, a private cleaning contractor, on the basis that she would receive inferior terms and conditions of employment to in-house staff.

Two months later, more than 30 staff at the charity took part in two weeks of strike action over pay, conditions and the sacking of one of their colleagues.

Part of their demands included their contracts being brought in line with the staff directly employed by the charity.

Supporting the cleaner in the case, UVW argued that the contract failed to pay due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination and advance equality of opportunity.

The union had previously highlighted how slightly more than 87 per cent of in-house staff at the charity were white, but the 90 per cent of outsourced cleaning staff who were black and minority ethnic, and did not receive full pay sick pay, received lower levels of pay and three times less maternity pay.

Petros Elia, co-founder of UVW, said on Twitter yesterday that the case had been successful.

“We won our group employment tribunal claim against The Royal Parks by successfully arguing that their decision to outsource a group of largely black, brown and migrant workers (park and toilet attendants) on lower pay than they would have received as in-house workers who are largely white is unlawful indirect race discrimination,” said Elia.

“This is the first time this argument has ever been made in court and UVW is so proud to be the trailblazer!

“This win will hopefully start a snowball of similar challenges from the hundreds and thousands of other black, brown and migrant workers across the public and private sector who are currently being flogged off to private contractors on crap pay and other T&Cs.

“This is an incredibly significant and historical win which will serve as a very valuable tool in the fight against outsourcing and institutional racism which UVW has already shown can be smashed through industrial action.”

Elia said the decision meant industrial action could be coupled with litigation and he therefore expected there would be many more wins in these sorts of cases in future.

A spokesperson for The Royal Parks said: “We are clearly disappointed with this judgment.

“We will now take some time to consider what the employment tribunal had to say before making a decision on next steps.

“Everyone working on this Royal Parks contract has been paid the London Living Wage since 1 November 2019.”

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