With all LU cleaning contracts now formally consolidated under ABM, the new company's conduct so far has left many workers with unanswered questions.
Some of these are as fundamental as: who do we actually work for? Tax letters from HMRC say we're employed by... GBM Services Ltd! ABM, a US company, did absorb GBM's UK operation (which held LU cleaning contracts many years ago), but as far as we knew, we were employed directly by ABM, not some subsidiary entity. It makes it hard to assert your rights when you don't even know who your employer is!
ABM have also hurt us financially. In the transition period from our previous fortnightly pay packets to ABM's monthly system, some cleaners took out a bridging loan offered by the company to tide them over. ABM has demanded it back in only two repayments, rather than letting us spread the repayments out over a long period. Why? Does it not expect to be here for the long term?
Many ex-ISS cleaners are still confused about their status. Even though they were TUPEd to ABM, they were sent P45s when ISS's contract ended, suggesting their period of employment may be considered to start anew from the point at which ABM took over, rather than being seen as continuous. ABM also refused to consolidate ISS's workplace pension scheme into their own. Ex-ISS cleaners have told they'll be able to access the money on retirement, but until then, a pension scheme they paid into is completely inaccessible to them!
Ex-Vinci cleaners were robbed over their company sick pay, before stern resistance from RMT reps saw it restored. And ABM's complicated online system for viewing payslips, which were formerly mailed to many cleaners' home addresses, will make it more difficult for cleaners to check our wages, particularly if we're not especially computer-literate or have English as a second language.
In the workplace, ABM's QR-code booking-on system is barely functional, leading some cleaners to question whether they intend to bring in a new system, possibly reviving ISS's old biometric system, for which much hardware is still in place.
The picture is one of a company that doesn't particularly know what it's doing, and barely seems capable of operating a contract of this size. RMT is in discussions with ABM bosses to secure a combine-wide recognition agreement; this cannot come soon enough. We need a proper collective bargaining agreement, and recognition of local union reps, so we can resist the company's chaos and impose our demands.
Cleaners' labour is vital for the functioning of London Underground. We deserve better than being traded between cowboy contractors and kept in the dark about the most basic questions relating to our jobs.