Urgent answers demanded from ISS amid ‘furlough’ pay cut fury


The CWU has challenged ISS to honour by its original pledge that any former BTFS staff furloughed as a result of disruption caused by coronavirus would continue to receive 100% of their salaries.

Following an abrupt u-turn by the company – which has now informed the union that any furloughed staff will only receive the 80% of their salary that is funded by the Government – the CWU has registered its ‘extreme anger’ at a move that represents a 20% pay cut for members who have already suffered huge turmoil since the disputed outsourcing of BT Facility Services last year.

Amid confusion as to the numbers impacted – and the precise job roles conducted by those who have been deemed surplus to requirements during the current pandemic – the CWU has demanded urgent answers to a series of questions which have direct relevance to the cleaning and security support provided by ISS to the BT Estate in its role as subcontractor to the lead outsourcing partner, CBRE.

Assistant secretary Brendan O’Brien explains: “At present it’s unclear whether this affects security staff as well as cleaners – but, either way, questions need to be asked as to why members conducting important functions for the benefit of the BT Estate, and by definition our wider BT membership, are effectively being temporarily laid off?

“It’s always been CWU’s understanding from BT that cleaning is being stepped up, rather than skimped on, in a bid to minimise the transition of coronavirus – and even buildings with fewer staff attending work than normal need security to be maintained.

“Against this backdrop we need to understand why staffs are being furloughed at all. The explanation provided to date is puzzling, as we’ve been told that ISS is required to cover any gaps in resource and is effectively ‘paying twice’ because the demands on the service have increased rather than diminished.”

The CWU is also urgently demanding clear answers on whether staff furloughed prior to the announcement of the withdrawal of the 20% salary bridge will be paid in full prior to that cut off – or whether the effective pay cut is being imposed retrospectively.

Brendan concludes: “Comparatively low paid people simply cannot afford sudden reductions in expected income flows – so any element of this being imposed retrospectively would take us into a new level of outrageousness.

“Either way, however, we are extremely angry that ISS has made this decision and have challenged the company to make good on its original commitment to pay 100% of pay on furlough.

“We are also deeply concerned about the lack of consultation with the union regarding this matter, and have escalated the issue to employee relations accordingly.

“Sadly, as a result of this decision many of the most vulnerable of our members are now facing the stark reality of severe financial hardship. Rest assured that in these unprecedented times the CWU will do everything in its power to try to rectify matters.”