Following up from the Parent Council newsletter of 2-3 weeks ago, I have sent out on behalf of the Parent Council an online petition which we hope you will sign and circulate as widely as possible by email, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, to your friends, family, colleagues, etc.
The Change.org petition can be accessed via the following link:
Glasgow schools’ janitors, who are members of the UNISON trade union have been involved in industrial action over unfair pay practices by their employer, Cordia (an arms-length external organisation of Glasgow City Council (GCC)), who is refusing to pay them a marginal weekly supplement of about £10 of ‘dirty money’ for carrying out ‘dirty’ jobs that other GCC staff get paid for over a year. GCC/Cordia have persistently sought to undermine these jannies throughout the process and the jannies have introduced ongoing periods of strike action in order to bring pressure on their employer.
As if the unfair pay practices weren’t enough, GCC/Cordia is intending to change the provision of school janitorial services right across the city, with schools losing their dedicated janny and ‘clusters’ of 4-5 jannies covering 8-9 schools being introduced in their place. This will see jannies having to work across several schools in a single day and them having to be booked to attend our children’s schools to deal with any issues or problems in the building or school grounds. All three trade unions representing the jannies oppose this.
IMPORTANT – school jannies don’t just have the function of working the boilers, gritting and cleaning the school playgrounds etc. They are also an integral part of the health and safety and security and wellbeing of staff and our children at school. Parents develop important, friendly and trusting relationships with the school janny, as do the school staff and, most importantly, the children.
In the letter from GCC/Cordia, they claim that “the availability of hugely sophisticated and innovative technologies” mean that each school does not need a dedicated janny, but what kind of sophisticated and innivative technologies allow 4-5 jannies to cover urgent or emergency (or, indeed, any) work across 8-9 schools before the school gates open after 8am? They also claim that “the janitorial reform will have no effect on school security”, but how will an average of one janny covering two schools with possible multiple entrances to the playgrounds reassure the children and parents (and staff) that their health and safety and security needs are being met? GCC/Cordia state that the head teacher is responsible for health and safety and security, but with cuts in provision to cover teacher sickness absence, head teachers can’t be potentially covering classes, the management of the school, and ensuring this at the same time.
Frankly the letter from GCC/Cordia does not in any way represent any form of proper consultation with Parent Councils and parents more widely. GCC/Cordia will often make rhetorical claims about how we’re supposed to be working in ‘partnership’, but these claims really are mere rhetoric that they reel out when it suits them.
According to GCC/Cordia, the jannies have been offered a pay increase of approx. £1,185, with a cut in their working week from 44 to 40 hours. While about half of this would account for the ‘dirty money’ the jannies deserve to bring them pay equity with other GCC staff, the jannies rightly view themselves as an important part of the school community. This view is shared by staff, parents and the children. It is also shared by many, many parent councils and parents across the city. GCC/Cordia’s damaging proposals seem intent on completely undermining this sense of community.
Speaking with UNISON officials and reps, jannies, cleaners and other parents from Parent Councils in other schools last week, we heard some pretty disturbing stories of jobs that jannies undertake that weren’t being done because of the strike, such as child vomit being left uncleaned over a weekend, children being ill from vomit not being cleaned up, etc. Additionally, jannies spoke of how even before the school they work in opens, they spend a lot of time cleaning litter, checking the playgrounds for broken glass, alcohol bottles, drugs and drug paraphernalia, dog faeces, used condoms, even weapons. This is something entirely unappreciated by Glasgow City Council/Cordia and, should the janny clusters be implemented, these are also things that could be left lying around playgrounds until such time as a janny is available.
If we all wish for this community relationship, built on familiarity and trust, and vital to the health and safety and security of staff and children, to be continued, we need to make our voices heard very loudly to GCC/Cordia.
YOU can help make GCC/Cordia change their mind. Please sign this petition and tell Glasgow City Council/Cordia to resolve the jannies dispute fairly and to end the damaging janitorial review immediately.
Please also email the following people to make them aware of your concerns (and feel free to adapt the above text). They are either key decision makers at GCC or Cordia, education officials, or are local Councillors representing local constituencies within the school catchment area, or who have constituents whose children are at Hyndland through successful placing requests. All of the Councillors will be up for re-election in May of this year. Some of those below (SNP and Greens) are supportive of the jannies, but writing to them also allows them to see what the strength of feeling is among the school’s parents, carers and the children.