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Ayrshire’s “Second-class” School Cleaners Take to Streets in Campaign to Win Living Wage

Monday, August 20, 2018

Enough is Enough! – Ayrshire’s “Second-class” School Cleaners Take to Streets in Campaign to Win Living Wage

As the new school term gets underway, school cleaners and janitors employed across Ayrshire by the local schools contractor, Mitie, are taking to the streets to campaign against their second-class treatment by Mitie and the local council.

GMB Scotland, the union for school support staff, is stepping up its campaign for a Living Wage for school cleaners. GMB Scotland is also demanding that janitors working in local schools, which are operated on behalf of North, South and East Ayrshire councils by the contractor, Mitie, are paid at least the same as council employed janitors. Members of the public across Ayrshire will be asked to sign petitions backing the cleaners and janitors at special street stalls organised by the union in Kilmarnock, Ayr and Irvine over the next few weeks.

In each of the 13 Mitie managed schools across Ayrshire low paid, predominantly women, workers are being treated as second class citizens with the full knowledge of the political leadership of local councils. School cleaners employed by Mitie are paid nearly £1 below the Scottish Living Wage, currently £8.75 an hour, which is paid as a minimum to every other council worker. Many of these workers transferred to Mitie's employment from the local council but have seen their pay erode year on year compared to their colleagues, doing the same jobs, and still employed by the council. There are even examples of women working in school kitchens and also as school cleaners who see their rate of pay drop when they change a council overall for a Mitie one.

GMB Scotland Organiser, Benny Rankin, said:

“The time has come to pay up what is owed. We are asking local people to get behind these cleaners and janitors and to help us end poverty pay in our local schools. GMB Scotland are demanding that all school cleaners get at least a Living Wage and to ensure that janitors in the council’s outsourced schools are paid as much as those employed by the councils. It is a scandal that local council leaders and Mitie have allowed it to get to this point, but these school staff have been treated as second-class workers long enough. Poverty pay in Ayrshire’s schools needs to end.

We are talking about a relatively small amount of money for Mitie, a company which is making £77.1 million in profits this year, and the councils, to put this right but we have been faced with a game of pass the parcel on who is to blame for the pay discrimination against these workers and a failure of political leadership from councillors to get the issue resolved. Until they do, local councillors should not be surprised to see school cleaners and janitors campaigning on our streets.”

GMB Scotland, the union for school support staff, estimates that the cost of giving all school cleaners across Ayrshire a Living Wage would amount to less 000.1% of Mitie’s massive £2.2billion revenue in 2018.


Contact: GMB Scotland Organiser, Benny Rankin, 07912 560808

Notes for information:

Mitie operate 13 local schools on behalf of the three Ayrshire councils:

North Ayrshire:

Greenwood Academy - St Matthew's - Arran High - Stanley PS

South Ayrshire:

Prestwick Academy - Belmont Academy - Barassie PS - Monkton PS - Alloway PS

East Ayrshire:

Grange Campus - St Joseph's - Shortlees PS - Mauchline PS

GMB Scotland will be collecting petition signatures in Kilmarnock on 1 September, Irvine, 8 September, and Ayr, 15 September.