Firm CWU focus on redundancy mitigation at ISS amid new BT Estate cleaning review

Telecoms & Financial Services, BT

More upheavals are on the cards at ISS following a review of the Hygiene Focused Cleaning Service that was introduced across the BT Estate as part of the post-COVID return to the workplace.

Revealed by management to  52 impacted ISS employees at 17 sites yesterday morning (Thursday), the move follows last month’s bombshell that a wider review of BT Estate cleaning activities – triggered by BT’s ongoing ‘Better Workplace’ site rationalisation programme – had placed 127 Static Housekeepers ‘at risk’ at 42 different locations. (See story here)

In both instances, ISS have been proactive in providing full visibility of possible alternative roles – not just on the BT contract but also on other contracts it holds in different localities. The company has also agreed to seriously consider any reasonable counter-proposals that would mitigate against redundancies and to try to identify suitable alternative work for ‘at risk’ staff wherever possible.

The 45-day consultation on the Hygiene Focused Cleaning  (HFC) shake-up announced yesterday will commence next Monday (March 13) and conclude on April 27 – with all impacted housekeepers currently in the process of receiving letters confirming their ‘at risk’ status and dates for individual consultation meetings.

Introduced last year as the post-pandemic return to the workplace began in earnest, HFC was a blended cleaning model which incorporated core cleaning activity with regular cleansing of high frequency touch points.

Driven by Health & Safety Executive requirements for businesses to consider COVID-19 in their risk assessments , the measure was put in place to minimise the risk of new outbreaks  – but ,as of November last year, that duty was lifted in all parts of the UK except for Scotland.

“This change in legislation, combined with continued cost pressures from BT, has sadly resulted in ISS proposing significant reductions of HFC cleaning hours in 13 sites on the UK mainland and at four locations in Northern Ireland,” explains CWU national officer Tracey Fussey.

“With weekly hours at these 17 locations being reduced from the current total of 1,196 per week hours to 847 – a reduction of 347 hours – it’s already clear that the 52 ISS employees currently conducting this work stand to be significantly impacted.”

A detailed breakdown if where the cuts will fall is contained in ISS Members’ Bulletin No.43/2023 – but already it’s apparent that, despite the focus on redundancy mitigation – and the company’s offer to compensate individuals agreeing to work reduced hours – some job losses are inevitable.

“The CWU National Team recognises that this morning’s announcement will have been extremely unsettling for all those impacted,” Tracey stresses.

“We’re receiving regular updates from ISS and are pleased that many sites and members from the previous reviews have been removed from being ‘at risk’ and in many cases alternative employment has been found within ISS on other accounts. As such, we’re hopeful that this will be also the case for the HFC housekeepers.

“Members do, however, need to be aware that they are entitled to be accompanied by a CWU rep at any individual consultation meeting they are called to, and I’d strongly advise them to do just that – as well as submitting counter proposals if necessary,” Tracey concludes.