Cleaners and Security Staff to Protest Against ‘Culture of Disrespect’ at Downing Street

Cleaning and security personnel are planning a protest outside Downing Street, in line with the treatment of their colleagues by those at the top of the government in the Partygate scandal.

United Voices of the World (UVW), a union that represents government workers, organised the protest to protest what it deems a culture of disrespect for low-wage workers.

It comes in the wake of Sue Gray’s partygate report, which revealed numerous instances of ‘unacceptable treatment’ of cleaning and security staff during her inquiry of lockdown-breaching parties.

She wrote: ‘I found that some staff had witnessed or been subjected to behaviours at work which they had felt concerned about but at times felt unable to raise properly.

‘I was made aware of multiple examples of a lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff. This was unacceptable.’

The study spelled out in terrible detail the scale of rule breaking inside Number 10 during the Covid crisis, prompting four Conservative MPs to call for Boris Johnson’s resignation today.

Staff members ‘drank excessively’ at the Downing Street Christmas party on December 18, 2020, according to the report, and a housekeeper discovered red wine on one wall the next morning.

The UVW said it was protesting in government buildings and workplaces around London because of a culture of disrespect for low-paid workers like cleaners and security guards.

General secretary Petros Elia explained: ‘We’re not in the least bit surprised by the revelations in the Sue Gray report. We have thousands of members who work as cleaners and security guards and these workers face disrespect and discrimination on a daily basis in offices and government buildings across London, not just in Downing Street.

‘It is outrageous to have rowdy and illegal parties during the pandemic but to then expect cleaners to mop up after you and to pay them, as well as porters and security guards, poverty wages and deny them full sick pay is abhorrent.

‘Most of the cleaners and security guards out there are ethnic minority workers, Black, brown and migrant people, who are disproportionately impacted by poor working conditions and racialised inequalities.’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to have personally apologised to Number 10 cleaning staff following the report.

But a leading official from the cleaning industry is now also calling for a meeting with the Cabinet Secretary about the issue.

Jim Melvin, chairman of the British Cleaning Council, said he was ‘appalled and upset’ at the revelations.

‘It is our position that cleaning and hygiene operatives are hardworking, professional and deserve to be respected in their vital work, just like anyone one else and certainly how the people concerned would expect to be treated.’

‘What cleaning staff need is support and recognition from the Government and Civil Service, not to be treated with any level of disrespect.’

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