Cleaning contractor ABM is issuing cleaners with new mobile devices, loaded with an app called "OnTime", which will be used for booking in and out of shifts, logging breaks, and booking holiday.
ABM has got into a fix with technology of this sort in the past, with a booking-on system based on scanning a QR code leading to numerous problems (see our report on that here). What if these new devices have similar problems? Will we see a return to the bad old days of routine short payment of wages that was common under Interserve and ISS?
This new initiative is made much worse by the fact that cleaners are being made to sign a document confirming that they will be liable for the device, and that failure to comply with the "terms and conditions" set out in the document could result in disciplinary action! Essentially they are being made to sign an addition to their contracts, which is being imposed without even cursory consultation.
London Underground issues all station staff with iPads, which can also be used for personal use, outside of work time. But LU accepts that, as this is a device it has decided to issue to staff and which it expects them to use for work purposes, it has responsibility for them, and will replace them if they are broken. They're also not used for signing in and out of shifts, have no link to payroll, and, since LU's ill-fated "Rostering and Coverage Tool" was scrapped and thrown in the bin (along with the £16 million it cost to develop it), aren't used for booking annual leave either. By comparison, ABM is imposing these devices on cleaners, telling them they're for work use only, but demanding they sign a document saying they, the cleaners, are responsible for the device, rather than ABM!
The whole thing is faintly dystopian... a 21st-century version of punching a time card, imposed by an employer no doubt keen to monitor its staff as closely as it can. While small numbers of individuals refusing to sign the documents risks exposing isolated groups of workers to disciplinary action, RMT must look to organise a collective response.