Image: Flickr / Konstantinos Koukopoulos

Cleaning restructure moves forward without unions’ backing

The University are continuing with plans to merge the three current cleaning departments into a single ‘Campus Cleaning Services’ (CCS) despite none of the four trade unions (UCU, UCATT, Unite and Unison) on campus endorsing the move.

The communication sent to affected staff members detailing these changes was not endorsed by the trade unions either, as it failed to mention their stance against the changes.

The University has said that the proposal is purely about standardisations of services, however the trade unions have highlighted many concerns with the changes.

Currently, and under the new contracts, cleaning staff get no paid lunch breaks. However, under the new change of contracts the length of such breaks will be shortened for the lowest paid, meaning staff in the bottom two salary tiers who work up to five hours will get no break, and those working between five and nine hours will be given a single, half-hour, unpaid break.

The University are also planning to implement 5/7contracts for all staff, whereby staff will be expected to work any five days of the week. This means that in order to guarantee a weekend off, staff members will have to use their own holiday time to book it.

Removal of all paid rest breaks have raised significant health and safety concerns on staff … and potential risk of increased injuries due to insufficient rest periods

UCU, UCATT, Unite and Unison

Another change in the contract will result in all staff on grade 2a wages being reduced to grade 1b wages. The Trade Unions have called this a “purely money driven [ move ] which will have a detrimental impact on affected staff earnings and possible losses to pension contributions”.

The University, however has said: “All staff impacted by this change will be protected at their current pay level and have accepted the change.”

The Boar first gained knowledge of these proposed changes through an anonymous member of the cleaning staff. This person also highlighted that many of the subsidised bus services that cleaning staff rely on daily will be removed.

They claimed the W buses, run by Travel de Courcey, are to be radically reduced, with some lines being altogether scrapped. This could force staff to pay up to three times the current fare, or risk losing their jobs due to being unable to get to work.

The Boar were told: “The staff weren’t even told about their buses being cancelled, they found out when it was announced on the intranet.”

The staff weren’t even told about their buses being cancelled, they found out when it was announced on the intranet

Cleaning staff member

In response to the reduction of bus services, the University have said: “While there has been a change to some bus services any savings from such changes are ring-fenced and will be used to enhance existing bus services, or to create new bus services.

“The University has had discussions with the bus companies to ensure their schedules are best suited to our staff’s working patterns, and the bus companies have been helpful and supportive.”

The staff member also claimed that there has been a reduction in the amount of services provided by Warwick Accommodation despite rent increases, commenting: “For example even Bluebell has lost its bedroom cleaning and the frequency of kitchen cleaning has also been reduced.

“Only en suite bathrooms are now cleaned and that’s only because the University doesn’t want them in a mess come Conference season! Students are getting a lot less for their money but that of course is kept quiet.”

The University has denied these claims, saying: “There has been no change to any of the levels of cleaning services provided to any student residence on campus since at least 2014.”

The staff member summarised their views by saying: “Standards are dropping and the lowest paid staff are being affected, but the University is happy to pay out large sums of money further up the food chain.”

Standards are dropping and the lowest paid staff are being affected

Cleaning staff member

Releasing a joint statement to the Boar, the Trade Unions stated: “We have been consulted on the restructure and whilst applauding the University for not outsourcing the cleaning provisions, the business case for the cleaning restructure has not been endorsed by the campus Trade Unions.

“Management have, nevertheless, proceeded with the consultation to affected staff despite the Unions not endorsing the proposals. Furthermore, the campus Trade Unions did not endorse the communication that HR sent to affected staff noting that a request for explicit reference to the Unions position in not endorsing the restructure was not incorporated by HR.

“The University has not exhausted the clauses in current role descriptions before proposing a changed structure; removal of all paid rest breaks have raised significant health and safety concerns on staff potentially suffering from greater fatigue due to the physical nature of the jobs and potential risk of increased injuries due to insufficient rest periods; moving cleaning staff at all grades to a 5/7 contract is detrimental to staff and is a move driven by cost savings.”

Warwick replied: “The University is obliged to continually look at how it delivers services in order to provide the best possible service that is cost efficient particularly. This is particularly true in areas such as student residences where students want the University to keep student rents as low as possible.

“The vast majority of staff have welcomed the new 5/7 rota as it gives them more certainty and forward notice as to when they will be working. We are continuing consultation with one person to try and accommodate their specific requirements in relation to this change.

“Throughout the consultation we have maintained that staff can take a paid break from their work to have a drink etc, and that the only the change is that such a break is to be where they are actually working using staff facilities there rather than travelling to staff facilities elsewhere on campus.

“It is for them [the Trade Unions] to determine communications to their members, not the University.”

Travel de Courcey could not be reached for comment.

Update and correction: The Boar misreported the fact that paid breaks will be removed. In fact, lunch breaks have never been paid for cleaning staff and other drink breaks will remain paid.

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