Angry UK cleaning & hygiene industry leaders have hit out after opposition parties have avoided meeting them to discuss pressing sector issues. The British Cleaning Council wrote to the Labour, Scottish Nationalist, Lib Dem and Green parties in August but none have agreed to meet with our industry’s representatives and the frustration over this comes after months of demands for a meeting with Government had also been ignored. The BCC tells me that although Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and the SNP responded, advising that contact would be made, this has not happened, while the others have failed to respond. The BCC has also contacted Government on several occasions to discuss concerns over the treatment of cleaning & hygiene staff in Number 10 during 'partygate'. Letters were acknowledged but no other action has resulted.
I’m astonished at the lack of engagement, bearing in mind the sterling work our industry did in keeping everything as clean and as safe as possible during the pandemic and especially so during lockdown when none of us really knew what we were dealing with or how to tackle it. Remember when we were initially advised to wash our food and food packets when unpacking them after shopping trips and to wash our bags and clothes too? Remember the fear we faced when going about what had previously been our well-established routines? Was what we were doing (or failing to do) putting us and our family, friends and colleagues in danger?
Imagine being a cleaner, with one’s family worrying about what might be picked up ‘on the job’, (not just cleaning, but during the commute - often by public transport, to spend time in a potentially contaminated area with Covid-19 carriers) & what devastating effect it might have on the family! How many cleaners, working long hours through family-disrupting shifts - perhaps on minimum wage, had to argue their case for continuing to go into work, with loved-ones arguing back that the rewards were just not worth the risks involved?
Our sector’s one of the biggest in the UK, worth almost £59Bn and employing 1.47m people, but is suffering major recruitment and retention issues which we need Government help in solving. Says BCC chair Jim Melvin: "The sector's staff play a vital role in keeping people healthy, safe and well and as the industry’s one of the 10 biggest nationally, it’s hugely important to the economy. Politicians of all stripes should be both interested and have a care about what’s required on behalf of the industry and the general public. Their continued lack of action would suggest that they don't.” Well said Jim!