As many students are aware, Kape & Pan was notified yesterday afternoon that their contract with SOAS would be terminated in the final week of August. We are saddened and frustrated at the way that Kape & Pan have been treated. We would like to give context for why the SU disapproves of this treatment, but ultimately supports this unfortunate decision.
This decision is in line with the in-house strategy that is being implemented by the school after a twelve-year campaign to end outsourcing. This campaign began as Justice4Cleaners in 2006, expanding into Justice4Workers - fighting for all outsourced work to be brought in-house with dignity and on fair contracts. This campaign succeeded last summer with the School agreeing to bring all outsourced staff in-house by 1st September 2018.
As aforementioned, the catering at SOAS is currently outsourced and is therefore part of this in-house strategy. A Self-delivery Project Board was established, comprised of not only members from the SU, but also SOAS Finance, SOAS Estates, SOAS Executive Board, SOAS Comms, SOAS Board of Trustees, Human Resources, UNISON and UCU. This board was established to facilitate the in-house process being conducted with the entirety of the SOAS community in mind. Part of this consultation process was a school-wide food survey to assess the needs of the community.
The in-house process involved all outsourced companies ceasing to provide their services at SOAS. Kape & Pan is unfortunately one of them. The SU is aware Kape & Pan’s situation is unique in that it is an independent, family owned business, with an ethos of using better-quality locally sourced ingredients platforming recipes from Southeast Asia. It is popular and beloved by the SOAS community. However, we would like to take this opportunity to highlight the shortcomings of the School’s management of this partnership, and how it has allowed this situation to arise.
Kape & Pan were brought in on a trial basis, a four-day pop up, in January 2017. Upon the evident success of this trial, the School informally extended the ‘contract’. The SU has always been given the impression that the arrangement was temporary. As a result of this precarious vendor-school relationship, Kape & Pan had no permanent contractual obligation with the school, leaving them with no security or formal notice period. They were consistently kept in the dark about the reality of what the in-house process would mean for them, despite their removal being an inevitability. This situation demonstrates the School’s lack of duty to those whom it employs. This is not to say that the partnership was not beneficial to Kape & Pan; they were offered a space without paying rent or utilities and there was never a consultation with the student body, the Justice4Workers campaign or the Unions about how this would impact the in-house struggle.
We hope that the reasons outlined above shed some light on why Kape & Pan’s contract will not be renewed, and how this was a necessary step in the twelve-year struggle to bring workers in-house.