Facebook Cleaners Face Redundancy

Fifteen cleaners at Facebook’s flagship London offices are facing redundancy.

The night shift cleaners, employed by facilities contractor Noonan Bidvest, have been advised their positions are at immediate risk as a result of restructuring. Noonan Bidvest says this is necessary due to the Covid-19 pandemic — at a time when most organisations are recognising the need for more leaning rather than less.

Noonan Bidvest intends to complete its restructuring process by October 1st. Therefore the cleaners have been invited to redundancy consultation meetings at short notice, allowing insufficient time for CAIWU representatives to prepare.

Noonan Bidvest claims the cuts are necessary in part due to a ‘lack of funding from the client’ — a reference to facilities management company JLL, which manages the London offices on behalf of the social media giant. However, the cuts are taking place against a positive financial background for Facebook, who reported a Q2 increase in revenues of 11%.

The cleaners have continued to provide a vital and necessary service throughout the pandemic, often in the absence of adequate PPE, and despite facing a constant risk of infection. In March, the team was paid £21 per hour to thoroughly clean Facebook’s offices  without suitable PPE following two members being diagnosed positive with Covid-19, highlighting the dangers faced by cleaners and the importance of their role in combating the virus. This also illustrates the fact that money is available when required in order to maintain standards, casting serious doubt on Noonan Bidvest’s current claims regarding its finances.

Just six months later, with less than a month to go until the end of the Government’s furlough scheme which provides a safety net for affected employees, the entire night shift is now facing the threat of redundancy.

The cleaners and Allied Independent Workers Union, which represents the majority of the Facebook cleaners, believes the cuts are not only unjustifiable in the stated terms, but could result in significant shortages of cleaners as lockdown eases and the workplace returns to normal. Furthermore, Facebook has announced its intention to open three new floors in its new flagship office at King’s Cross. This will require additional cleaners, not fewer. In the meantime, the lack of night shift cleaners will result in certain areas not being cleaned on a regular basis, with an associated increased risk of the transmission of Covid-19.