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Facebook Cleaner Exhaustion Claims 'Without Substance'

Facebook Cleaner Exhaustion Claims 'Without Substance'
20 September 2021
 

Claims that Facebook’s facilities management firm demanded the removal of a union activist because of their protest against workloads have been refuted.

The Observer newspaper revealed that it had seen emails between JLL, who manages Facebook’s London portfolio and Churchill Group, who provides cleaning staff to the buildings, asking for a cleaner to be removed because of union activity.

However statements from both JLL and Churchill Group argue that no such instruction was made.

Guillermo Camacho, of The Cleaners & Allied Independent Workers Union, allegedly organised protests against “impossible” cleaning standards. He told the newspaper:

“The number of floors we have to clean has gone up from five to 12 [at Facebook’s offices on Brock Street]. But they haven’t brought in more staff. It’s impossible – I was having to come before my shift and leave late to get it done,” said Camacho. “It’s making us all really stressed and sick. That’s why we had to protest.”

Brock Street’s cleaners also claim they were ordered to clean a washroom, with five toilet cubicles and a shower, in one minute and 30 seconds.

The Cleaners & Allied Independent Workers Union (CAIWU) intends to bring Camacho's case to an employment tribunal.

 

CAIWU Attempts to Open a Dialogue With Churchill

 

Bruce Coker from CAIWU stated to ThisWeekinFM that Guillermo Camacho had "an unblemished seven-year record as cleaning supervisor" at the site.

Bruce also told us that Churchill had planned "sweeping changes" prior to them taking over the contract from Bidvest Noonan in January 2021, including "a major organisational review of operational hours, structure, posts and roles required across all sites within the contract that may result in redundancy, change in working hours, change in structure and/or change in working patterns."

 

"Cleaners who have left or are on long term absence due to sickness have not been replaced. The total number of cleaners on the contract has dropped from 24 to 21 during the pandemic."

–Bruce Coker

Organiser, The Cleaners & Allied Independent Workers Union

 

From CAIWU's point of view, the inclusion of additional floors in the schedule led directly to complaints from JLL about declining cleaning standards.

This has allegedly led to "attempting to make the existing operatives work harder, to the point of sickness and exhaustion". Bruce told us: "Cleaners who have left or are on long term absence due to sickness have not been replaced. The total number of cleaners on the contract has dropped from 24 to 21 during the pandemic."

He added:

"Churchill denies that workloads at Facebook have increased or that any health concerns have been raised as a result, yet CAIWU has written to Churchill’s HR Director on at least three occasions since May of this year highlighting such concerns. CAIWU has repeatedly attempted to engage Churchill in a serious dialogue about these issues, and Churchill’s only response has been to deny that any problem exists."

 

“We have reviewed the allegations behind the claims being made by CAIWU and we consider that they are all without substance.”

–Churchill Group Spokesperson

 

Churchill Group’s Full Statement

 

A spokesperson from Churchill Group confirmed the following to ThisWeekinFM:

“We have reviewed the allegations behind the claims being made by CAIWU and we consider that they are all without substance. We have done (and we continue to do) our utmost to proactively manage our involvement with CAIWU, via positive engagement with our own workforce, to diffuse these false and damaging statements.

“We will not comment on the specifics of individual cases but we are confident with the governance of our HR processes and state that we follow legislation and operate with transparency and integrity throughout the management of every case. We can confirm that any employee relations matters are unrelated to any protest activity or Union involvement. We advocate freedom of speech and welcome and encourage feedback from our teams.

“Due to significantly reduced occupancy in the Facebook buildings, adjustments were made to realign cleaning schedules to maintain hygiene and safety. To this end additional floors were added to the specification, however this did not result in increased workload and we have recruited additional team members.

“Every team member has been trained and has the relevant tools and equipment to do their job efficiently and productively. As part of this, we time some tasks in order to ensure they are achievable. They are also completed by the management team and undergo time and motion reviews specifically designed to each site.

“In terms of our employee wellbeing, we place this above anything else and provide a range of effective tools to aid both physical and mental wellbeing. We have not had any extended sickness or any increased sickness on this contract, or any concerns raised regarding health issues. We have a robust return to work process in place and support our employees on their return from any absence ensuring that they can raise anything they wish to. “

JLL’s official statement added that the company had “never instructed Churchill to remove any staff member because of union activity.”

Picture: a photograph of a smartphone screen showing the Facebook app

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 20 September 2021

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