Business leaders from the UK’s cleaning and hygiene sector have hit out over the government’s failure to engage properly with them following earlier request for a meeting to discuss the findings of the Sue Gray report into Partygate. The report’s findings included evidence of cleaners at No 10 Downing Street and other Whitehall departments being treated with ‘contempt’ and ‘serious disrespect’.
The British Cleaning Council (BCC), the industry body representing the cleaning and hygiene sector which generates £59bn in revenues annually, has twice asked to meet Cabinet Secretary, Simon Case, to discuss concerns over the lack of respect and poor treatment of cleaning staff identified by the report into parties at Number Ten.
BCC, which was ‘appalled and upset’ by the revelations, wants to review the allegations with the government and discuss measures which have been taken to deal with them.
Council Chairman, Jim Melvin, first wrote to Mr Case to formally demand a meeting on 25 May, immediately following the release of Ms Gray’s report – also following up his request wiith an email. His original letter was acknowledged but the Council says no other response has been received.
Melvin says: “After the appalling way cleaning staff were treated in Downing Street, surely it is not too much to expect to sit down and discuss what has been done about it with someone representing the Government?
“We need to be sure that this disgraceful scandal has been properly resolved and we need reassurances that cleaning staff in Government will be treated correctly in future. Instead we have been snubbed. We are very unhappy and disappointed.
“Given the lack of anything substantial in response to our request for a meeting, we can only assume that the ministerial statements and apologies over the way cleaning staff were treated were merely empty rhetoric.
“The Government appears to accept the treatment of cleaning staff with arrogance and disrespect, at a time when our hardworking and professional colleagues were on the frontline in the fight against the Covid pandemic and needed and deserved support and recognition. How can we possibly change this clear and unacceptable culture from our leadership, if they won’t even meet with us?”
Speaking at the time, Mr Melvin said that the findings of the report were ‘absolutely appalling and upsetting’.
He added that the mistreatment of cleaning staff had come at a time when, in some parts of the industry, the demand for increased standards of hygiene during the pandemic had combined with severe staff shortages to drive many colleagues close to breaking point.