A summary of relevant information and events to the Justice for Cleaners campaign:
– Our cleaners are currently not employed by Goldsmiths but by ISS, a multinational company that hold contracts at many universities, hospitals, and businesses. We have heard from our colleagues that they receive no sick pay, no holiday pay, a lack of job security – on top of their heavy workloads. The majority of the workforce come from a low-income and BAME and/or migrant background, and many of them are women. Some of them have worked hard for the university for decades.
– A proposed restructuring of their schedules by ISS in April 2018 was met with complaints across the board – twenty cleaning staff testimonies, published on 12th of June 2018 testify to the grave detrimental financial and personal effects of the proposed changes including loss of jobs, drastic reduction to incomes leading to difficulties in paying for rent, bills and food, and concerns for personal safety travelling late at night.
– Dozens of cleaners assembled outside the College Council meeting on the 28th of June and many of them discussed concerns directly with senior members of management (SMT) and Council. SMT, including the Warden Patrick Loughrey, verbally assured cleaners that action would be taken in light of their concerns. However, this never materialized into concrete action.
– The Justice for Cleaners petition signed by more than 285 staff members was received by management received on Friday 27th July 2018 (and a shorter version which appeared on the Guardian website on Tuesday 24th July) demanding better working conditions for, and the in-housing of our cleaning staff.
On 2nd August 2018, a message by Director of Finance Ian Pleace was sent out to all Goldsmiths staff acknowledging the large amount of support in the Goldsmiths community for bringing cleaning staff in house, and stating that management are taking steps to examine how an in-housing process might be realized. However, no concrete assurances were made about the in-housing of cleaning staff nor the respectful consultation of cleaners around their schedules.
– An emergency demonstration was called on Thursday 2nd August following news that the restructure was to be implemented by ISS the following Monday, given the gravity of the impending changes to the cleaners’ schedules and potential job losses.
– A further emergency demonstration was held on Monday 6th August – the date the new changes were imposed – in support of our cleaners.
– Since then, as foreseen in the cleaners testimonies, there has been huge disruption in their lives. Over twenty staff have lost their jobs at Goldsmiths. From those who have worked the changed schedule, we have heard about unworkable conditions: the same amount of work being imposed on a reduced labour force, a lack of training or instruction working in new areas, late evening shifts that are leaving staff unsafe leaving college on their commute back home late at night. This is on top of the financial loss and disruption already previously outlined. We have also heard about bullying and anti-union intimidation towards to the cleaners at the hands of ISS.
– An open letter sent to senior members of Goldsmiths management – the Warden Patrick Loughrey, Finance Director Ian Pleace and head of HR Andy Lamb – on Friday 10th August asking for the three simple demands listed above remains unanswered for more than a week.
***We have yet to receive any concrete assurances that the in-housing of cleaners will take place, nor that steps are being taken to meaningfully consult with the cleaners about their schedules. It has not escaped us that management has been slow to react for months now, whilst cleaners’ lives have been plunged into chaos and they are financially, physically and personally baring the brunt of ISS’s disgraceful mismanagement and Goldsmiths’ evasion of their responsibility to their workers.***
Justice for Cleaners
Wednesday 22nd August 2018