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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