Good Work for All: ISS, the difference made by a Living Wage contract

Providing the quality service expected by the billion passengers using the London Underground every  year,  relies on a skilled and motivated workforce working effectively and efficiently.

The process
As part of ISS’ cleaning contract with Tubelines, the company responsible for the Jubilee, Picadilly and Northern lines, the London Living Wage was brought in two years ago and has been critical to meeting this challenge on one of the capital’s most iconic public services.

The benefits
From improved morale and retention rates to creating a better quality of life in and out of the workplace for front-line operatives, the positive impact has more than justified the investment at a time when costs were being tightly controlled.

Operations manager Sean Farrell recalls how the £4.50 hourly pay rate at the start of the contract nine years ago inevitably led to dissatisfied staff and high turnover. The current rate of £8.55 represents a significant hike and is helping to attract a higher calibre employee as well as changing some of the perceptions around the role.

“It used to be that you would only have people from the direct vicinity applying to work here, but we are now getting people from further afield that are more experienced and better trained because the money is so much better,” said Sean.  “When I first started, we used to have 10% of the workforce leaving each year and now it’s only1.4% which has made a massive difference.”

The improved productivity and morale help ISS to consistently perform against its KPIs and exceed targets exceed, while issues around sickness and absenteeism have dramatically declined. And for the frontline workforce, the repercussions go far beyond the daily parameters of the contract.

“I wasn’t able to rent a two bedroom flat on the money I was being paid beforehand,” said cleaning operative Costa Gbadepo.  “But now my wages mean I can concentrate on my work as I’m no longer on the lookout for another job to add to the one I’m doing. There is much more team spirit now as people value the job more.”

These are sentiments echoed by John Wilsonlo who no longer has to make some of the personal sacrifices that were necessary when he took home the minimum wage - from food purchases to the amount he was able to travel.
 “It’s really improved every aspect of my life, I’m now living so much better than before and feeling so much better in myself,” he said.

This case study has been produced by The Living Wage Foundation.
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