This is one of the less wildly unfair things that happens we think. That security guards get paid less than professors:
In many ways, this is a great place to work – the students and staff are friendly, and I love my job. Yet there is a subtle apartheid at work that divides the staff and discriminates against myself and my colleagues, despite our longevity of service.
In my opinion that discrimination stems from the practice of outsourcing. Academics and administrators work directly for the University of London, which offers holidays, sick pay, a substantial employer contribution to a good pension and an incremental salary scale.
By contrast, security officers, cleaners, porters and caterers do not – we have worked for a series of companies contracted by the university to provide these services. As you can imagine, these companies provide the vast majority of their employees with the legal minimum in terms of working conditions and benefits.
It was Adam Smith who pointed out that there's rather more to compensation than just the wages. There's how fun the work i#s to do, how difficult and so on. These days we'd add in those pensions, sick pay and all the rest. They're things which cost employers money. Thus they're part of compensation, if not wages directly:
Second, we demanded the same rights as our directly employed University of London colleagues – equality of sick pay, holidays and pensions, as part of the 3 Cosas Campaign.
They really are demanding greater equality of pay between security guards and professors.
It's even possible that they're right, that there should be greater such equality. But we should also be clear that this is the demand. For only when we recognise the insistence for what it is can we construct the appropriate answer.