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.
28 June 2019