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Goldsmiths Cleaners Letter – June 2019

In-Housing of Cleaning Provision at Goldsmiths

Dear Goldsmiths Management,

We write to you today, nearly two months since cleaning provision at Goldsmiths was brought back in-house, and as we approach the proposed shift pattern restructure on July 1st. Being in-house is hugely welcome, we are looking forward to receiving the same terms and conditions as colleagues across Goldsmiths, including entitlement to holiday, sick, maternity and paternity pay, pensions and other staff benefits that we have been assured.

While we have eagerly and patiently awaited in-housing since September 2018, and some of our colleagues are satisfied with the changes, the reality for many of us since in-housing has been much worse than hoped. A number of us have received a real cut in wages due to a reduction in available working hours. As a consequence, one colleague has already had to leave Goldsmiths and others may be forced to follow him.

With new shift patterns proposed for July 1st, many of us have been assured no more than 20 hours per week. While this is suitable for some, many cleaners have requested extra hours and/or full-time employment through consultation with Unison and Goldsmiths. This should be possible, given Goldsmiths Council’s (Winter 2018) commitment to allocating 20,000 extra hours annually for cleaning provision, and given the amount of overtime hours we regularly work. Many of us depend on the income earned through overtime, so it is of course always welcome. But we dearly hoped and expected that the additional 20,000 hours would be reflected in our contracts, giving us stability and certainly going forward, instead of wondering nervously each month what the next month will bring. (Is this really the case for other directly-employed staff at Goldsmiths, or is this just the case for cleaners?) Our hopes were raised even higher as Goldsmiths and Unison consulted on the shifts and hours that we wanted, hopes that are now dashed as it feels like we have not been heard.

We were assured that in-housing would be a change for the better, that cleaners would ‘benefit from improved employment terms and conditions in line with equivalent directly-employed staff at the College’ (https://www.gold.ac.uk/about/statements/goldsmiths-cleaning-provision/). We hoped to be treated with respect and dignity, and that our working conditions will be less chaotic, arduous and stressful than they have been in recent months. To us that means better organisation of our work, the appropriate number of staff to do it, and with cover provided when colleagues are away. We hoped for longer shifts so that we are not forever travelling to and from Goldsmiths to work just 3-4 hours. Those of us who previously worked the night shift or the longer day shifts, which were cut in August 2018, have requested the opportunity to work this again. Sadly, it feels like we have not been listened to, and that our 20 hour contracts will fix our pensions and holiday and sick pay allocation pro-rata to way below the average.

We are disappointed that long and continuous service at Goldsmiths has not yet been reflected in our salaries, as was indicated to us in meetings with Goldsmiths HR. Additionally we request clarification about the London Weighting payment made to all Goldsmiths staff, and how this is reflected in our current hourly rate of £10.80?

We cannot help thinking that this process would have worked better if we had been involved in it. Cleaners have met Goldsmiths SMT and Unison on various occasions since in-housing was announced. At the first meeting the Directors of Finance, HR and Facilities promised that they would listen, and that they would keep in regular contact. The subsequent meetings involved different college representatives each time, who often lacked the information we needed. Furthermore, despite the establishment of a project board to oversee the in-housing process, no cleaner was ever invited to be part of it, to share our experience and our aspirations. Sadly, many of us feel that the only change has been the name of our employer and the colour of our uniform.

Finally, please could you clarify urgently the situation involving the out-sourcing of cleaning provision in student residences over the summer. We are very concerned by reports that, less than two months since cleaning became ‘an in-house service at Goldsmiths’, agency staff are currently being contracted from an external provider (https://www.gold.ac.uk/about/statements/goldsmiths-cleaning-provision/). How can this be appropriate or fair at the same time that in-house cleaners are requesting additional hours?

We urge you to respond to our concerns in writing and meet with us as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Goldsmiths Cleaners

28 June 2019

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Letter from Goldsmiths Cleaners – April 2019

Dear Patrick Loughrey, Warden of Goldsmiths, Dinah Caine, Chair of Council, Gail Shaw, Head of Estates, members of SMT and Goldsmiths Council members,

Cleaners’ In-Housing Process

We are now less than a month away from May 1st 2019, the day we will be brought back in-house as members of staff at Goldsmiths. Since September 20th 2018, we have been anticipating this date with great hope for improvements to our working conditions, to have the same basic rights as the rest of Goldsmiths staff.

We write to you today with great frustration and sincere concern, as we still lack the basic information about our employment from May 1st. We do not know what shifts we will be working, how many hours we will work per week, or our salaries. We feel like we are in limbo, lacking this information we cannot plan for the day-to-day arrangements with our families and our future.

This is not a new experience for us. In fact this lack of information feels very familiar to the position we were in last summer. In June 2018, we were given very short notice by our employer ISS that our hours and shift patterns would be changing. These changes happened without consultation with us. The short notice threw our professional and family arrangements into chaos, and many of us had to give up or hastily change our other employment commitments. The changes themselves meant that many of us lost out financially, losing up to 4 hours per day, or 20 hours a week. This had serious implications for our finances, paying the rent and caring for our families. Some of our colleagues lost their jobs. Cleaner representatives outlined this situation when we attended Goldsmiths Council on 28th June 2018.

In spite of our concerns, the shift and hour restructure went into effect on 6th August 2018. A number of our colleagues had to leave Goldsmiths and look for other employment as they could not work the new shift patterns or cope on the reduced hour allocation. Remaining cleaners have also really suffered, with more work to do with fewer personnel and reduced hours. It has been arduous, chaotic and stressful and the standard of cleaning has suffered. Some of us have had health problems resulting from the increased workload.

In the Autumn of 2018, following your much welcomed announcement about in-housing in 20th September, we were invited to meet with Goldsmiths SMT and Unison. Ian Pleace, Andy Lamb and Gail Shaw met with us, and they promised improvements to our conditions which they recognised as below the standard expected by Goldsmiths. They also said they would listen, and they would keep in regular contact. But to do this, they said they needed to extend the ISS contract by 6 months, 6 months more of the near unbearable conditions. Today, less than a month from the in-housing date, we still lack the crucial information we need to plan for our futures.

On 19th March 2019, 2 weeks ago, we were invited to a meeting with Goldsmiths, at which we were presented with information about our rights to a pension, our monthly pay date, the fact that Goldsmiths holiday period runs September-August each year, and other information. Unfortunately there were no answers to our key and urgent questions relating to shift patterns and hours, our pay and the organisation of our employment. We were told that much relied on the information held by ISS, information which they had not passed on and did not legally need to deliver until 28 days before in-housing. If this was the case, Goldsmiths could have consulted with the workers over the past 6 months. The representative from HR promised to return to us with answers in the following week. We have not heard anything since March 19th, and as you can imagine we are concerned and nervous.

We thought that in-housing would be a change for the better, but at present it does not feel that way. We want to be able to plan our lives, we want to know that cleaners will be able to take up the 20,000 extra annual hours for cleaning provision (announced at Goldsmiths Council in winter 2018), that our length of service will be recognised in our salaries (as with other Goldsmiths staff), and that our working conditions will be less chaotic, arduous and stressful than they have been in recent months.

During the last 6 months, the extension to the ISS contract, we expected the chance to participate in the process of in-housing, to be consulted with and be shown the respect that we deserve as Goldsmiths workers. We have been sincerely disappointed that we have not even received the basic information we need to plan for the future. We still do not know such basic things as what shift patterns will be available, how the workload will be distributed among workers, what kind of equipment we will use to do our jobs and who will manage us. As it stands we are very fearful that there will be no substantial change to our working conditions following the in-housing.

With the help of [name of colleague] from Unison we have now shared with you our current shift patterns and those that would be preferential for us. We urge you to meet with us in the near future to discuss our shift patterns, hours allocation and salary levels, and to discuss the organisation of our work going forward.

Yours sincerely,

Goldsmiths Cleaners

3rd April 2019

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Letter from Justice For Cleaners Campaign group – April 2019

Dear Patrick Loughrey, Warden of Goldsmiths, Dinah Caine, Chair of Council, Gail Shaw, Head of Estates, members of SMT and Goldsmiths Council members,

Re: Cleaners’ In-Housing Process

We write to you as the Justice For Cleaners campaign group once more. There is now less than a month left until May 1st 2019, the agreed date to bring cleaning staff back in-house. However, we are sincerely concerned as cleaners still lack the basic information about their employment from May 1st. Shift patterns, numbers of hours to be worked, nor salaries after in-housing are known currently. This is worrying as cleaners cannot plan for the day-to-day arrangements with their families.

As we have communicated in numerous emails and letters, both public and private, the aims of our campaign group have been consistently to ensure that cleaning staff are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. With regards to the process of in-housing, this means there should have been a meaningful consultation with them around the best possible cleaning provision and a respectfully communicated set of shift patterns and terms and conditions.

Sadly, however, we know from speaking to cleaner colleagues over past months that there has been a distinct lack of information communicated to them. The sporadic updates on the college website have done little to reassure cleaners that their working conditions will improve upon their in-housing, and up until recently, many cleaners seemed unconvinced that in-housing will really happen.

In communications on 21st November and 13th December 2018, we urged Council to take seriously the effects of the restructure of cleaning shifts from August 2018 and as health and safety issues. The drastic cuts to cleaners’ shifts resulted in a massively increased workload and untenable situations for many cleaners. Many lost out financially with some losing £700 of monthly income, whilst others were unable to manage the sudden shift changes and lost their jobs all together. This had a devastating effect on cleaners’ lives and workloads; they have been buoyed by the hopeful expectation that after in-housing, things will be much better. However, we join them in their frustration and concern that there has been little to reassure them that this will be the case.

As a campaign group, we are also concerned about the lack of the transparency during the in-housing process. It was announced following the Council meeting of 20th September 2018 that “there shall be in an increase of cleaning provision to the midpoint between current and Gold Standard hours”. We have heard of an additional 20,000 cleaning hours being implemented. However, there has been little transparency around these additional hours. Will they
compensate the hours lost after the chaotic and sudden August 2018 restructure which greatly reduced the overall number of hours? How will these hours be distributed amongst cleaning staff? What about those members of staff who unfairly lost their jobs and/or work during that period? Furthermore, will cleaners’ experience and concerns around the practicalities of cleaning provision be taken into account? (For example, many complain that they are unable to clean classrooms during the current shift patterns as they are occupied by students in those times, and that they are consequently blamed for unclean classrooms when in fact it is impossible to clean during these times)

We urge SMT to meet with the cleaners in the imminent future to discuss shift patterns, hours allocation and salary levels, and to discuss the organisation of work going forward.

Yours sincerely,

Justice for Cleaners campaign Goldsmiths

3rd April 2019

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Cleaners’ Xmas Party 2018

Cleaners’ Xmas Party 2018

Fri 7th December – 6-7pm Refectory. Hot food (Halal) will be served.

Christmas party to celebrate the cleaners’ victory of in-housing in 2019 and for colleagues to say thank-you for your hard work.

Please note that Estates and ISS have been informed by HR about the Xmas party and that all cleaning staff are welcome to attend before their shifts commence.

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Latest from Goldsmiths cleaners – November 2018

Since our letter to Goldsmiths management on 16th October 2018, the J4C campaign group have received no reply. After the cleaners wrote their letter on 24th October 2018, signed by 47 members of staff, dates of meetings between the cleaners, members of Senior Management Team (SMT), Goldsmiths Estates department and Unison representatives were finally announced. Three sets of dates with morning and evening meetings were announced – 6th Nov, 20th Nov and 12th Dec. The first set of meetings was successful in allowing the cleaners to articulate the grievances around their working conditions – in all their severity – directly to Goldsmiths management (their de-facto employer).

However, whilst this forum provided some vindication for what the cleaners have suffered at the hands of ISS over past months, the current situation of the cleaners has gone from “very bad” to “even worse”. Having lost the contract with Goldsmiths, ISS appear to be treating their staff with contempt, ignoring requests for flexibility around shift patterns and work days and exacerbating existing bad work practices. From listening to cleaners we have heard accounts of the following: some cleaners are having to do the work of four (or more) people, shifts involve much more moving between buildings than previously to cover more areas, they are expected to do much more work than is possible in one shift, they are being treated disrespectfully by their managers, some cleaners report having to take painkillers constantly to deal with back or knee pain due to the extra work they are being forced to do – in short, the restructure continues to be chaotic and wreak havoc on the cleaners’ lives. The extremely negative effects pertain not only to cleaners’ work lives at the job, but also outside of the job, as the continued effects of being forced to work shifts inconvenient to them is putting pressure on their families and other responsibilities. Many are distressed that they are unable to carry out family duties; the same concerns about leaving work late at night persist (especially for the majority of women); many are extremely upset and angry at how they are being treated.

Two months after the announcement of in-housing and with a promise to get it done by April 2019, Goldsmiths have yet to produce a schedule of in-housing which will assure the cleaners that the process is well and truly underway. Nor have they produced documents suggesting a transparent process in which the cleaners will be meaningfully involved, such as the details of the working group which has been set-up. Aside from listening to the cleaners’ problems in these meetings, which is clearly important, Goldsmiths SMT need to be respecting the cleaners’ experience and expertise in formulating the design of a new system of cleaning provision which will serve the college well. As the J4C campaign group have repeatedly emphasized – the cleaners must be meaningfully involved in all negotiations around their shift patterns and the in-housing process.

Given the gravity of the current situation, we implore Goldsmiths to intervene in ISS’s working practices. We find these to be completely unethical and the cleaners themselves say that they are being treated like animals. Although in-housing has been promised, six months (or more) of this current situation is proving too much to bear for some of our colleagues and urgent action is required by Goldsmiths to ensure the health and safety of all staff is provided for.

We will continue to support our cleaner colleagues in their fight for dignity and respect at work. Although in-housing has been promised, they are suffering even more now than before and the Goldsmiths community will support them in any action to improve their working conditions and lives.

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Nov 2018 Meetings between cleaners and Goldsmiths senior management

In early November, a strong and united cleaner workforce was (at long last) invited to meet with Goldsmiths senior management and Unison officials. Two meetings were held on Tuesday November 6th, with strong turnout at both meetings including over 42 cleaners at the evening session. Cleaners spoke with great emotion about the appalling conditions in which they are working under outsourcing company ISS, which have significantly worsened since the crippling shift restructure implemented in September 2018. The restructure has overwhelmingly cut hours and personnel while increasing workloads and removing flexibility for workers who now face greater challenges with rent, childcare etc. These work conditions have already caused stress, illness and chronic pain among other issues, and a number of workers have been forced to leave Goldsmiths accordingly. Whilst these dreadful conditions were enacted by ISS, management still has questions to answer in regards to why members of the Goldsmiths community were ever put in a position to be exploited by a company like ISS. Goldsmiths Director of Finance Ian Pleace, Head of HR Andy Lamb, and Head of Facilities Gail Shaw heard the harsh truths about the impact of their relationship with ISS on people’s lives. Cleaners demanded that the in-housing process be undertaken as quickly as possible and with full involvement of cleaner representatives and their trusted Unison rep. Cleaners also welcomed the participation in this meeting of more senior Unison officials, including Vicky Lucioni, who were meeting with workers largely for the very first time. Since the meetings took place there have been reports of verbal intimidation by ISS management of those who attended the meeting. This is completely unacceptable, please report any more incidences of intimidation to Justice for Cleaners or Goldsmiths Workers Action and we will take the case up with Goldsmiths senior management and Unison.

goldsmithsjustice4cleaners[at]gmail.com

gwagoldsmiths[at]gmail.com