Goldsmiths Justice for Cleaners Email Exchanges with Facilities Management June – August 2019

28th June 2019

In-Housing of Cleaning Provision at Goldsmiths

From Goldsmiths Justice for Cleaners to Gail Shaw Head of Facilities

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

1 July 2019

RE: Letter from Goldsmiths Cleaners – June 2019

From Gail Shaw to Goldsmiths Justice for Cleaners

Dear All,

Thank you for your email below.

During the project to bring cleaning in-house it has always the College’s priority to ensure that those transferring had the opportunity to make their voices heard and felt that the process was being clearly set out.

Because of this, all cleaners had the opportunity to undertake as many meetings with HR and Facilities Management as they needed, with a translator provided should they have required one. In total, some 90 individual meetings have taken place over the last three months with a number of group meetings also held. In addition to face-to-face consultation, documents and letters were translated for staff into both Spanish and Somali.

In accordance with the law on such employment transfers, no staff have had an imposed cut in hours. Indeed, all ISS contracted hours were honoured in full, with some staff choosing to change shifts, add some hours and some staff chose to reduce their hours. As you will be aware, we also moved some weekend shifts into mid-week hours so that cleaners could keep the same number of hours per week without having to work more than 5 days per week.

Our new cleaning manager has undertaken extensive work seeking to establish shift patterns that everyone is happy with; all changes to shift patterns have been agreed with individuals.

Unfortunately however, despite best efforts, it has proved impossible to give all staff the exact hours that they might ideally have wanted.  For instance, some requested overnight hours which have been previously criticised by our recognised unions due to late starts/finishes and the staff’s perceived invisibility to the College. However, all efforts were made to get as close to an ideal as possible for each individual.

As with all roles at Goldsmiths, job descriptions for all of those transferring were scored by independent HERA standards with all of those moving receiving a pay rise. They will also be eligible for increments next year, in common with other Goldsmiths staff.

Length of service does not influence pay structure at Goldsmiths, although the cleaner’s previous length of service has been honoured in terms of increased annual leave provision for those who have continuous service of more than five years and increased sick pay for those who have continuous service of more than three years. I would ask that any member of the team who has concerns or issues bring these to the attention of their supervisors and managers so that we can address them specifically.

London weighting is automatically included in your hourly rate, this can be looked at in more detail in the salary scales spreadsheet available in the HR section of Goldmine.

With regards to the Halls cleaning which is currently taking place, this is a very specific and time sensitive clean which happens at the end of the accommodation year to prepare for conference guests who use the halls during the summer. All additional hours were offered to the existing team with very little take- up. This was surprising as some staff had expressed their desire for additional hours when available. Unfortunately, this meant that due to the very short time frame for this clean, agency staff have been used. There is no feasible way of recruiting and bringing staff directly into Goldsmiths’ employment for such short periods, and at such short notice. There will be further opportunities for additional hours during the conference season and these will be made available to existing staff first.

Finally, the project board overseeing insourcing is scheduled to continue meeting monthly and there is very much an open invitation for UNISON to attend these meetings. We would encourage you to liaise with your UNISON reps to bring to the table any issues you feel the board needs to address.

Many thanks, Gail.

Gail Shaw

Head of Facilities

Estates and Facilities

5 July 2019

Response from Goldsmiths cleaners

From Goldsmiths Justice for Cleaners to Gail Shaw

Dear Gail,

Please find below response from our cleaner colleagues.

Best, Justice for Cleaners

Dear Gail,

Thank you for your response. Given the significant concerns that persist, and in the context of chaotic shift changes and workload increases since July 1st, we request that you meet with us next week to discuss our situation.

We look forward to hearing from you about proposed times and dates so that all cleaners can attend either one meeting collectively, or a meeting for the morning and evening shifts.

Thank you, with best wishes, Goldsmiths Cleaners

10 July 2019

Re: Response from Goldsmiths cleaners

From Goldsmiths Justice for Cleaners to Gail Shaw

Dear Gail Shaw,

I hope you are well. We write again on behalf of our cleaner colleagues regarding the email sent on July 5th which has not yet received an acknowledgement, either via an email reply or a meeting invitation to cleaners.

This email serves as a reminder that cleaners have asked for an urgent meeting with you to discuss their current situation. We have copied in once again the responsible parties in senior management and Goldsmiths unions, and have included previous email correspondence below. We have also included in this email Tim Paine (Facilities Manager) along with the new Director of Estates and Facilities Jeanette Batten, who we welcome warmly to her new role and look forward to working with closely.


Justice for Cleaners

11 July 2019 

RE: Response from Goldsmiths cleaners

From Gail Shaw to Goldsmiths Justice for Cleaners

Dear Justice for Cleaners,

We will be sending a letter to all cleaning staff next week, we will communicate with them directly . This will inform them when we will be holding team meetings.

We again remind you that cleaning staff with any issues can talk to their managers directly or organize a meeting with a translator as necessary. In addition Unison held drop in sessions with staff yesterday and we will pick up any issues with them

Thanks, Gail Shaw.

18 July 2019

RE: Response from Goldsmiths cleaners

From Goldsmiths Justice for Cleaners to Gail Shaw

Dear Gail,

Thank you very much for your helpful response, and for calling meetings with cleaners.

We met again with cleaners last night before their shift and they have asked us to clarify one very important point issue with you. It is an issue that cleaners have tried to raise with their managers directly but to no avail. According to the letter dated 11 July sent by Cezar Suciu, the Group Meetings scheduled for this coming Monday and Tuesday (22 and 23 July) are set to take place in Block 4. Given the size of Block 4 and in particular the extremely narrow access up and down the stairs, how is it possible that a full team meeting can take place there? Cleaners are not aware of a room in Block 4 large enough for the whole morning shift or whole evening shift to attend comfortably. (Or will cleaners be expected to stand?) Moreover cleaners have serious health and safety concerns of trying to get large numbers of cleaners into Block 4, what would happen in the case of a fire? It has been a struggle enough that the evening shift are all now having to walk all the way through campus each shift to sign in Block 4, let alone all cram into Block 4 together for a meeting.

Cleaners are grateful that RHB 144 has been booked for the Quarterly Meetings (with the Facilities Management Team) scheduled for 29 and 30 July. We hope that the Group Meetings scheduled for 22 and 23 July will also have appropriate rooms allocated.

Finally, can you confirm that translators will be present at the meetings on 22, 23, 29 and 30 July? Cezar Suciu’s letter to cleaners does not state this explicitly.

Thanks very much, we look forward to your response,

Justice for Cleaners

18 July 2019

RE: Response from Goldsmiths cleaners

From Gail Shaw to Goldsmiths Justice for Cleaners


Thank you for your email.

The meeting will be in the garden room (Block 1). Block 4 was given as a holding location until the room booking was confirmed, and because it is close to the location we were hoping to use. All cleaners will be informed of this today, Cezar has been on AL and is back today. Again, if the cleaners have questions they can ask their line manager, if they are unavailable they can come to Tim or I, or the admin team in Facilities who they know very well.

Translators have been booked for the meetings.

Thanks, Gail.

31 July 2019

RE: Response from Goldsmiths cleaners

From Goldsmiths Justice for Cleaners to Gail Shaw

Dear Gail Shaw,

We write this morning at the request of cleaners to enquire why their Quarterly Meetings with the Facilities Management Team were cancelled without any notice or explanation. Cleaners were invited to these meetings in a letter from the Cleaning and Domestic Services Manager Cezar Suciu dated 11 July (see attached). The letter stated ‘all staff are required to attend’, but last night and on Monday morning these meeting did not happen, with no explanation and no notice given. We have had reports of cleaners waiting in Room 144 RHB (the scheduled location of the meeting) to which no one from the Facilities Management Team bothered turning up to. Cleaners feel they have been deceived by the promise of meetings with the Facilities Management Team to discuss the immense challenges many have faced since in-housing, only for these meetings to be somehow forgotten. This is hugely disrespectful and is further evidence of cleaners’ continued treatment as a second tier workforce since in-housing. We urge you to provide a full explanation for the cancellation of these meetings, to issue an appropriate apology to cleaning staff and to rearrange these urgent meetings with cleaners as soon as possible.

We look forward to your response,

Justice for Cleaners

31 July 2019

RE: Response from Goldsmiths Cleaners

From Gail Shaw to Goldsmiths Justice for Cleaners

Dear Justice for Cleaners,

Thank you for your email. However, we will communicate directly with our staff and their recognised Union.

Gail Shaw.


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