Defending members in ISS as redundancies loom

Telecoms & Financial Services

The job security agreement secured by the CWU in detailed talks with ISS prior to the disputed outsourcing of BT’s Facilities Services division on April 1 is already proving its worth following the long-anticipated announcement of redundancies within the housekeeping function.

Despite repeated claims by some BTFS managers that ‘nothing would change’ post TUPE transfer, the union has consistently warned that job losses were probable on account of ‘measures’ announced by ISS during the TUPE consultation.

The union’s cautionary words – dismissed as scaremongering at the time by some in BT – were vindicated this morning, when all of the ex-BTFS housekeepers (cleaning staff) who transferred to ISS just two months ago were informed of a voluntary redundancy exercise that is now getting underway.

“This development will undoubtedly be un-nerving for members across ISS,” stresses CWU assistant secretary Sally Bridge, “but the significance of this being a voluntary exercise cannot be overstated in an outsourced cleaning services sector where compulsory redundancies are more the norm in job loss situations.

“Already the job security agreement we agreed with ISS as part of our recognition agreement is bearing fruit, because it has enabled the CWU to present a forceful case for a BT contract-wide VR exercise which will hopefully secure the numbers of willing leavers that ISS is looking for.”

The launch of the VR exercise comes just days after the CWU was informed of the completion of an extensive review of the housekeeping services that ISS provides across the BT Estate.

At a meeting convened by ISS on Wednesday to discuss a new ‘target operating model’ the union was told the review has involved detailed site-by site ‘productivity analysis’, taking into account the introduction of new equipment to aid productivity and the removal of all non-housekeeping activities, which will now be carried out by CBRE.

“As a result, ISS has informed the CWU that it is their intention to make a number of efficiencies and cost reductions which will lead to a downsizing in the number of housekeepers currently employed on the BT contract and employees being put at risk of redundancy,” Sally continues.

The company’s specific proposals include:

  • A reduction of housekeeping hours depending on the nature of the site
  • A reduction in the number of mobile housekeepers and their more to a separate line of management
  • The introduction of supervision a number of locations and also in the mobile team.

“This review involves all static housekeepers at 76 affected sites and the mobile team across the BT contract,” Sally continues. “However, in line with the spirit of our job security agreement with ISS, signed just a couple of months ago, the number of redeployment opportunities will be maximised by way of ‘bumping’ – in other words the backfilling of secure jobs whose current holders have decided to take up the VR offering with people who do not wish to leave the company but whose jobs may be at risk.”

Full details of the better than statutory VR offering – which mirrors the terms that would have been applicable in BTFS – can be viewed in Letter to Branches No. 327/2019 here LTB 327/2019 – ISS Target Operating Model – Potential Redundancies – Housekeepers .

Sally concludes: “ISS has stated that it is their intention to work with the CWU in order to avoid compulsory redundancies wherever possible – and for our part the CWU has made it very clear to ISS that we are vehemently opposed to any compulsory redundancies and that every effort should be made to avoid that situation occurring.

“”Our key message to members, who will undoubtedly be worried as to where this process will lead, is that we’ve put in place a mechanism to reduce the risk of compulsory redundancies being sought by ISS.

“The CWU is keeping very close tabs on developments and is absolutely determined to ensure that ISS fulfils its obligations under the job security agreement it willingly entered into with the union.

“That’s not to say that the situation we’re facing isn’t serious – simply that we’re trying to work with ISS as best we can to ensure the company’s downsizing plans are contained and mitigated against as much as possible – and, above everything, that we avoid a compulsory redundancy situation.”

  • Ex-BTFS security staff who transferred to ISS on April 1 are completely unaffected by the present review