BT Estate cleaning review puts 127 housekeepers ‘at risk’ of redundancy

BT, ISS-Facilities

Assurances and clarity are being urgently demanded for housekeepers across the BT Estate following ISS’s shock announcement this week of a major shake-up  of cleaning activities that has been triggered, in part, by BT’s ongoing ‘Better Workplace’ site rationalisation programme.

Tuesday’s bombshell – which threatens the jobs of 127 ‘static’ housekeepers who operate in fixed individual locations – represents the first major review of cleaning requirements following the disputed outsourcing of BT Facilities Service  in April 2019.

ISS claims that, in addition to site closures and the repurposing of other locations relating to the ‘Better Workplace Programme’, changed post-Covid working patterns involving hybrid working and homeworking means building usage and occupancy levels have been rapidly decreasing in many locations, whilst increasing in others.

Following a national review of cleaning needs at 129  sites, which the union only learned about late last week, ISS  has identified 42 locations where it believes cleaning services can be withdrawn altogether and a further 83 where resourcing levels can be significantly reduced – sometimes by more than 90%.

Just three sites (Cambridge Trunks South; Faraday Buildings in London and the Hamilton SS EE site) have been earmarked for increased housekeeping resource. However, the 4.4 additional full-time equivalent FTE) roles identified across those locations scarcely dent the wider picture of reduced weekly hours elsewhere which will turn many full-time roles into part-time ones.

A detailed breakdown of where the cuts will fall was issued to members across ISS on Tuesday (see ISS Members’ Bulletin No.31/2023 – with some of the  part-time roles proposed offering as little as a tenth of the hours currently worked.

A 45-day consultation period commenced the same day, and impacted members are currently in the process of being issued with letters confirming whether they are at risk of redundancy. ISS has simultaneously entering into collective consultation with the CWU, with weekly meetings scheduled between now and the end of March.

CWU national officer with responsibility for members in ISS, Tracey Fussey, told CWU News: “Clearly this is an extremely challenging situation, and the issues the National Team is dealing with are twofold.

“First and foremost there are the profound questions this development throws up over the future employment of our impacted ISS members – but there’s also the question as to how this will affect the users of the buildings where housekeeping resource is being significantly reduced.

“The union wants to be sure that that the cleanliness of the environment our BT members are working in isn’t compromised. As such, we’re urgently seeking feedback from branches as to whether the changes being proposed at particular sites seem excessive or unviable, because detailed local knowledge is obviously vital for any challenges we mount.

“We’ve also pressed ISS for full visibility of any alternative roles or additional hours for our impacted ISS members on not just the BT contact but also on the other contracts it holds in particular localities – and I’m pleased to say the company has agreed to work proactively with the union on this issue.

“That’s really important, because already it’s clear the extent of the reduction in individuals’ weekly hours that are being proposed in many locations will call into question the viability of their continued employment – even after the compensation being offered for hours reductions is taken into account.”

Tracey continues: “The CWU National Team will continue to meet with ISS to seek solutions to mitigate against redundancies and will steadfastly support all members throughout the consultation process.

“That said, we recognise that yesterday’s announcement will have been extremely unsettling for our members across ISS – and I’d urge anyone with concerns raise them with their local branch representatives without delay.”

  • Evolving cleaning requirements  across the BT Estate will also result in changes for the current 90-strong team of ‘mobile’ housekeepers – who are not based at a single location but who move from site to site as required.  More information is being sought by the union, but the CWU currently understands these will primarily entail alternations to the frequency their visits to sites in line with changing building occupancy levels.