GMB ballots cleaners at Nationwide

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GMB, the union for cleaners and security staff, will launch an industrial ballot of members working as cleaners at Nationwide’s headquarters in Swindon.

The ballot will ask GMB members contracted by Carillion whether they’re prepared to take industrial action to fight cuts to working hours. GMB regional organiser, Carole Vallelly, delivered a letter yesterday to Nationwide CEO, Joe Garner, and Head of Corporate Citizenship, Stephen Uden, which highlighted the incompatibility of Nationwide’s status as an ethical employer and their association with Carillion PLC.
The letter includes details of Carillion’s involvement in the unlawful practice of blacklisting as well as details from a damning BBC report on contractors working for Carillion in Qatar. The letter concludes “GMB believes that Nationwide’s claims to be an ethical employer do not survive examination of your relationship with the clearly unethical contractor, Carillion.”

The cuts had been planned to go ahead earlier in the year but were cancelled following a series of protests outside Nationwide headquarters in Swindon. However, the trade union has now learned that Carillion intends to reintroduce the changes after renewal of the contract with Nationwide is signed on 1st October. The cleaners currently work early shifts, but the proposed changes will see many staff work between 5 pm and 10 pm each weekday evening and some staff will also be required to work full dayshifts at the weekend.

Carole Vallelly, GMB Regional Organiser, said “The relationship between these two companies is very convenient for Nationwide. On the one hand they can claim to be an ethical employer while keeping their lowest paid, lowest status, and most vulnerable workers at arm’s length on the other by employing them through known rogues and sharks like Carillion. GMB believes that nationwide are hypocrites: Their head of corporate citizenship, Stephen Uden, sits on the board of the Living Wage Foundation and earlier this year the company increased the hourly rate to £8.25. For our members however, it is not the hourly rate that matters, it’s the amount of money in their pay packet.

The proposed shift changes will not only push some GMB members into genuine financial hardship, but the new evening hours will force many workers with children to leave their jobs altogether.
GMB is not prepared to stand by, while Nationwide preens itself in smug self-satisfaction about what a good employer it is, while allowing Carillion to grind cleaners at Nationwide’s own headquarters into the ground. GMB believes that every worker is entitled to dignity. Nationwide seems happy to pay lip service to being ethical, but is seemingly quite prepared to throw that out the window if there are financial savings to be made at the expense of their cleaners. GMB calls for Carillion to enter immediate talks, and to make an unequivocal and written assurance that the proposed shift changes have been withdrawn.”