JEREMY IRONS has backed demands to end zero-hours contracts at a top university — but urged striking security guards to “be reasonable.”
The actor, known for roles in Brideshead Revisited and The Lion King, was speaking at a University of London event on Tuesday night to mark the centenary of TS Eliot’s work at the institution.
But his reading of the Four Quartets was disrupted by a noisy demonstration by striking security guards.
The workers had staged a two-day strike that morning in protest at “disguised zero-hours contracts.”
The Independent Workers of Great Britain union accused management of failing to implement a “25 per cent pay rise promised six years ago.”
Mr Irons pleaded with the workers to stop the protest.
“I believe your point is made,” he said through a megaphone. “Those of you on zero hours, if you exist, shouldn’t be. The wages should be maybe higher than £20,000 a year, if you’re raising a family. But it’s complicated. It needs talk, it needs reasonableness…
“So I’d be grateful if you could let us talk about Eliot, be reasonable and your point is made … we understand where you’re coming from and I wish you every success. But please stop shouting because that’s not the way we do it here.”
IWGB general secretary Jason Moyer-Lee then told Mr Irons that bosses had “rejected negotiations at every single step.”
He said: “We even said, if they entered into substantive negotiations, we’d call off the strikes. They’re the ones refusing to negotiate. We’re being reasonable, they’re not.”
A university spokesperson said the guards were employed by a contractor called Cordant Services.