GMB members employed as cleaners by Carillion at Nationwide’s headquarters in Swindon have voted unanimously in favour of industrial action in a consultative ballot.
After increasing the workers’ hourly rate, Carillion advised GMB members that new shifts would be introduced on Monday, 23rd May, with reduced hours, leaving most staff £40 per week worse off.
“We demand that Nationwide and Carillion get their acts together, respect the loyalty and dedication of these cleaners, and withdraw these scandalous attacks” says GMB.
Nationwide is a principal partner for the Living Wage Foundation and recently announced that all contractors, including the cleaners at Nationwide House, would have their hourly rate raised to £8.25 per hour. The Living Wage is separate from the new National Living Wage and is a voluntary commitment from employers.
Letters handed to their staff by Carillion clearly state that the changes are at the request of Nationwide, and that the changes are due to a change in Nationwide’s requirement for the contract.
Currently the cleaners work from 6:00 am until 2:30 pm on weekdays. The new proposed shifts will be between 5:00 pm and 10:30 pm. In addition, some staff will be required to work every weekday evening and then an additional full day at the weekend. Most of the cleaners are mothers who would be unable to care for their children if they were moved to these twilight shifts, and many of them have worked at Nationwide House for several years.
Cleaners voted to reject the changes at a GMB mass meeting last week. Carillion had told them that they would have to individually sign new contracts on Monday and Tuesday of this week, but after pressure from GMB union, this has been delayed.
Carole Vallelly, GMB Regional Organiser, said “I have met these cleaners several times now, and I have been struck by how proud they are of the work they do, and how responsible they feel for ensuring Nationwide House is clean and a pleasant place to work. Some of them have loyally worked at the Nationwide HQ for almost 15 years. That loyalty is being cruelly betrayed by Carillion and Nationwide.
“For some of our members this pay cut will mean the difference between whether or not they are able to pay their rent and put food on their tables. Our members see it as a sick joke that Nationwide Building Society prides itself on being a living wage employer, and an ethical business, when these disastrous changes are being forced onto the lowest paid and most vulnerable people working in their head office.
“Carillion claim that Nationwide want these changes because it is more efficient to clean after office staff have gone home. This is manifestly nonsense as the cleaning staff already start at 6:00 am, and clean before the office staff arrive in the mornings. GMB believes that the real reason for these changes is to save money, so that they can pay for introducing the living wage at the expense of our members.
“Carillion and Nationwide seem to be squabbling with both companies blaming the other for these cuts to hours. GMB demands that they get their act together, respect the loyalty and dedication of these cleaners, and withdraw these scandalous attacks on their hours and take home pay.
“GMB is now organising a formal industrial action ballot, and the message for Carillion is that our members will not accept these twilight shifts, and will not accept these pay cuts. They won’t accept them from Carillion, and they won’t accept them from any other contractor if Nationwide seeks to move the contract from Carillion to another employer. Our members are incredibly determined to fight these changes.”