Angry business leaders in the cleaning and hygiene sector have hit out after the Government simply failed to fully respond and agree to their demands for a meeting to discuss the findings in the Sue Gray report.
The industry body representing the cleaning and hygiene sector – which is one of the ten biggest in the UK and worth nearly £59bn – 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.
The British Cleaning Council (BCC), which was left ‘appalled and upset’ by the revelations, naturally and reasonably wanted to review the allegations with Government and discuss the steps that have been taken to deal with them.
BCC Chairman Jim Melvin first wrote to Mr Case to formally demand a meeting on 25 May, immediately after the Sue Gray report was published, and this was followed up by email. The initial letter was acknowledged but no other response has been received.
Mr Melvin said: “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?”
Sue Gray’s report into parties at Number Ten was published on 25 May and described ‘multiple examples of a lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff’.
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.