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A summary of events so far

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

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Management doesn’t care – Goldsmiths and ISS oversee shift restructure that pushes over 20 staff out

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The campaign to end and reverse the cleaner’s shift restructure, and get a commitment to bring them in-house, has revealed the appalling treatment that staff have suffered under ISS management, both before and after the restructure.

Goldsmiths senior management refuse to acknowledge their duty of care to their employees, and would rather oversee the solidification of a 2-tier workforce.

We demand the immediate reversal of the restructuring for cleaning staff, concrete assurances that the in-housing process will take place, and that the outsourcing contract with ISS will come to an end in October 2018.

Cutting the hours of the most precarious workers, forcing them to do more work in less time for no more pay, and asking them to finish at unsafe times will not be tolerated.

We stand in solidarity as the wider Goldsmiths community to demand justice for our cleaners!

Please share your anger at the treatment of staff by emailing Warden Patrick Loughrey (warden@gold.ac.uk). Let him know that we are the university, and we stand together.

 

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Open Letter to Goldsmiths Management from the Justice for Cleaners at Goldsmiths campaign

Open Letter to Goldsmiths Management from the Justice for Cleaners at Goldsmiths campaign

On 2nd August 2018, a message by Director of Finance Ian Pleace was sent out to all Goldsmiths staff. This was in response to the Justice for Cleaners petition signed by more than 285 staff members which management received from us 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.

Ian Pleace’s message acknowledges that there is a large amount of support in the Goldsmiths community for bringing cleaning staff in house, and reports that management are taking steps to examine how such a process might be realized. While we welcome such a development, the message nevertheless fails to meaningfully respond to many of the crucial issues raised in the Justice for Cleaners staff petition around the current work conditions for cleaning staff at Goldsmiths, as well as failing to give concrete assurances that cleaning staff themselves are being properly involved in all processes.

The most urgent issue the message fails to address are the detrimental effects on our cleaning staff of the current shift restructure. These were clearly laid out in the petition. Additionally, there have been several calls to halt the restructure, including:

  • the collection of twenty cleaning staff testimonies, published almost two months ago on 12th of June 2018, detailing the detrimental financial and personal effects of the proposed changes,
  • the attendance of dozens of cleaners outside the College Council meeting on the 28th of June where many of them discussed concerns directly with senior members of management and Council,
  • an emergency demonstration by staff and student members of the Justice For Cleaners campaign on Thursday 2nd August, following news that the restructure was to be implemented by ISS the following Monday.

Despite these repeated calls, the re-structuring came into effect – with just one week’s notice given, and in some cases less – on Monday 6th August 2018. As foreseen in the testimonies, the changes are already having detrimental effects on our cleaning staff. We have been made aware of at least 20 employees who were unable to show up to work on Monday or the following days because of childcare, family, or other work commitments. From those who have been working this week, we have heard about detrimental working 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 many times.

We ask Goldsmiths management to take urgent and immediate action on current unworkable situation of our cleaning staff. In particular, we demand:

  • The immediate halting of the restructuring for cleaning staff. As Goldsmiths are the clients of ISS, they have the power to hold ISS accountable to their own employment standards and give the cleaners the respect they deserve. As described above, the changes in shift patterns have disrupted their workers’ lives enormously. While the message from the Director of Finance suggests that the new regime is meant to be more conducive to a “family life [and a] meaningful work-life balance,” we have been told repeatedly by cleaning staff that the changes are unliveable. If management had listened to the cleaning staff themselves, they would know that the shift changes have caused a complete upheaval in their current work-family schedules, especially imposed at such short notice. It is clear that Ian Pleace’s assumptions around what constitutes a “meaningful work-life balance” is not based on the actual concerns of the cleaners and demonstrates Goldsmiths’ neglectfulness towards the well-being and experiences of their workers.
  • An immediate meaningful consultation with all cleaning staff about present and future shifts and changes. Given that we have already highlighted ISS’s reputation as a toxic and unreliable employer, Goldsmiths’ willingness to accept ISS at their word that a “full consultation” did take place without investigating further, shows a complete lack of concern about how university facilities are being managed. The mismanagement of facilities staff is not simply an employment issue for cleaning staff, but poses real risks to the safety of all staff and students working in the university. No doubt, the continuation of this kind of negligence during term time could result in serious incidents. We feel it is important to flag this health and safety issue now so that a record is made of how the university was indeed alerted to these risks prior to the inevitable.
  • Concrete assurances that the in-housing process will take place, that the outsourcing contract to ISS will indeed come to an end in October, and, most importantly, that cleaning staff will be allowed to meaningfully participate in this process. As a campaign we will respect the formal processes which must be undertaken for the in-housing of cleaning staff, but we are also committed to holding the university accountable every step of the way. Whilst it is positive to hear that the well-being of staff is on the agenda as steps are taking place regarding the potential in-housing, we expect transparency, accountability and direct worker consultation throughout this process to ensure their well-being truly is prioritized.                  

As our campaign goes from strength-to-strength, each action we organize is getting more and more attention. In solidarity with other in-housing campaigns currently taking place for cleaners at the Ministry of Justice and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea this week, as well as parallel ongoing campaigns at King’s College London, we will continue to pursue justice for cleaners at our university. We hope Goldsmiths will see the moral and economic sense to grant all of its workers dignity and respect and does not make decisions which will jeopardise the university’s outstanding reputation.

In the coming weeks we will be publishing letters from notable alumni and honorary graduates at Goldsmiths. The situation with the cleaners at Goldsmiths has provoked immediate responses from a broad range of people. This is because, to put it bluntly, the injustices faced by these workers at the hands of ISS are so clearly disgraceful.

We have plenty of stories of the appalling treatment that staff have suffered under ISS management, both before and after the restructure, which we would like to relate – sadly, we do not feel we can go into any more detail at present, as there is a sense around the college that even discussing work conditions and their detrimental effects can bring recrimination and reprisal. Intimidation and anti-union behaviour does not belong at Goldsmiths; it should not and will not be tolerated. This is what it has come to, which calls even more urgently for a meaningful, safe, and respectful consultation with all cleaning staff.

 

Justice for Cleaners

Friday 10th August 2018