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The FM (janitorial) review is approximately two weeks old and already it is creating a considerable amount of stress and confusion amongst those affected. The discomfort amongst members is palpable and ranges from worrying issues related to pay to serious concerns over health, safety and security.
Branch officials have been hearing and relaying these issues to the review board and representing members’ interests, both individually and collectively, to get the best result from this review.
Unite City of Edinburgh Council branch is member-led and member-run; branch officials can advise and negotiate on behalf of members, based on decisions taken both individually and collectively by members.
Grading raise versus pay cut?
The proposal to change grade 3 SSOs (janitors) into Grade 4 Facilities Technicians may initially seem benevolent. However, it doesn’t take much to figure out that the loss of working time payments and the lack of clarity on overtime mean that a pay cut is on the cards for most of those who work hard to maintain our schools, community centres and other facilities. This is largely due to the new start time of 7pm, the removal of split shifts and the internal squabble between FM and C&F over who should pay for janitorial support during out of hours and weekend working.
Some Unite members have told us that they stand to lose several thousand pounds and would be unable to accept these conditions unless something is changed. Others have raised the question of some form of pay protection or pay transition in connection to the potential loss of allowances and overtime. Branch negotiators will be taking these points, and any others raised by members, into the negotiations during the consultation period.
All workers whose jobs are under review are being asked to complete a preference form, during 1:1 with their line manager. This form provides guidance for managers in the complicated task of allocating staff to the various proposed new roles. Where a worker expresses a first preference for the location they already work in and there are no significant changes (e.g. in total weekly allocation of janitorial hours) then the preference should be honoured.
Many members have expressed concerns that they are being compelled to accept a reduction in hours or to “take someone else’s job” or will be moved to a different location. That these concerns are being raised by members demonstrates a clear failure of communication between senior FM management, local area management and workers on the ground. These concerns have been raised in consultation meetings (both in the general review meetings and in negotiations) and will be again.
Effect on the service
There have been multiple issues raised regarding the effect on the service. Some key points are
- How can anyone think it’s possible to start up the boiler, check the building, open gates and doors, clean up any debris and maybe clear the pathways of snow etc on a 7am start and before the breakfast club and others start coming in?
- If there is no janitor after 2.45pm who is going to lock up and secure the school?
- Who is going to monitor contractors if the janitor finishes at 12pm? Does that mean we will only have contractors working in the mornings?
- Are we going to have to schedule deliveries for the mornings? This is impractical.
Another very significant effect on service came to light recently as a result of the Lifelong Learning review. This review removed the Head of Establishment role from CLD workers, in Community Centres, effectively meaning that there is no-one in overall charge in the event of an emergency. This issue has been raised as a matter of great urgency with both review boards.
Both Unite and Unison branches had a presence at each of the review start meetings and we held discussions with members after management and HR had left.
During these discussions we heard members’ issues and explained the process of putting these points across to management during the consultation period (a 3-pronged approach involving 1:1’s with line manager, email to the review address and copy to branch negotiators, for issues to be raised in weekly negotiating meetings).
We will do the same during the mid-point meetings and follow this up with 2 or 3 joint union meetings where members should decide any course of action in order to seek appropriate solutions to the multitude of issues being raised.