Fight to minimise ISS job losses continues

Telecoms & Financial Services, ISS-Facilities

Strenuous efforts by the CWU to avert as many compulsory redundancies as possible at ISS have entered a new phase, with the union striving to maximise opportunities for redeployment, hours reductions and shift changes amongst the former BTFS housekeepers affected.

Since job losses associated with ISS’s shift to a new ‘target operating model’ were announced at the end of May – confirming CWU fears that were branded ‘union scaremongering’ by some BTFS managers prior to the disputed outsourcing – the CWU has left no stone unturned in its efforts to ensure that job losses are voluntary.

Successfully holding ISS to the spirit of a job security agreement that was mercifully concluded just prior to the TUPE transfer, 126 static housekeepers and 119 mobile housekeepers are already in the process of leaving the business after accepting enhanced VR terms that mirrored what would have been applicable in BTFS.

“This part of the process has now been completed,” explains assistant secretary Sally Bridge, “but unfortunately there are still a number of sites and mobile regions where there have been insufficient volunteers.

“ISS has therefore informed the CWU that it is their intention to move to the next stage, which will involve consulting directly with housekeepers to consider the possibility of changing shift times, reducing hours and redeployment. Then, if there still remains a surplus at the last resort, ISS intend to move to a compulsory redundancy situation.

In an outsourced cleaning sector the union’s success in persuading ISS to exhaust all other options first has demonstrably borne fruit, albeit in a highly distressing situation.

The 245 voluntary redundancies already accepted has reduced the list of locations were the company believes surpluses exist from 77 to 37. Now the union is hoping that a combination of measures  – including redeployment where possible and compensation payments for those accepting reduced hours – will further reduce the numbers at risk of compulsory redundancy.

As the unnerving and stressful consultation process gets underway for the circa 200 people who have been placed in scope, the CWU has secured commitments from ISS that all those affected will have the opportunity of at least two face-to-face meetings with their managers to fully explore their options. Local reps are on already on standby to accompany members in those meetings – and members are very much encouraged to avail themselves of this support.

Sally continues:  “We’re clearly entering a very difficult phase, and have some extremely tough weeks ahead of us, only after which will it become evident how many of those currently in scope for redundancy aren’t able to accept hours changes, redeployment or any of the other options on offer.

“While it’s true to say that ISS has done everything we could reasonably expect to approach this downsizing exercise in a way that accords with the principles of the job security agreement it entered into with the CWU, it’s now impossible to avoid the fact that some of our worst fears are likely to happen.

Underlining that seriousness of the situation, in recent weeks the CWU has concluded, with a heavy heart, that it had no option but to discuss the selection criteria for compulsory redundancy that managers will use in situations where it transpires that no alternative roles are available and reduced hours or shift changes aren’t possible for the individuals affected.

Sally concludes: “This has been a very bitter pill for the CWU to swallow, but after much consideration we concluded that we simply had to ensure that the selection criteria are as fair and transparent as they can possibly be.

“The facts, however, speak for themselves – louder and clearer than ever – that those in BT who set in motion the outsourcing of BTFS with zero regard for what it would actually mean for hundreds of loyal employees should hang their heads in shame.”