A short-term strategy implemented during the tender for the Gibraltar Government’s public cleaning contract exposed workers to uncertainty and unfair criticism, the Gibraltar General and Clerical Association said yesterday, as it urged understanding from the public during the transition phase.
Last Saturday the contract switched from Master Services, which has held it for the past 18 years, to Brittania Premium Cleaning, which won the government tender.
Master Services employees have transferred to the new company and are already at work on Gibraltar’s streets.
But the GGCA said it will take some time before everything is in place to enable the workforce to deliver the standards of cleanliness it aspires to.
The union said workers had endured deteriorating working standards and “an absolute rollercoaster ride” of uncertainty over the past 18 months, with public cleaning handled via short-term extensions after the original contract with Master Services expired.
“As we have stated publically and consistently, this has not been conducive to efficient and effective cleaning, through no fault of the workers involved,” the GGCA said.
The union had previously highlighted difficulties faced by workers including low manning levels, non-functioning machinery and lack of basic equipment including brooms, pans and gloves.
“Due to the short-term strategy that has been implemented throughout the tender process, these issues have been an obstacle to proper performance by the workers,” the GGCA said, adding it had urged members to take a surplus of annual leave before the change-over in companies.
According to the GGCA, the new contract is more onerous and Brittania Premium Cleaning will be recruiting more staff in order to meet its commitments.
The company has also carried out an independent assessment of the machinery available for public cleaning.
The GGCA has asked for a copy of this assessment but said its members believed the current fleet of vehicles, machinery and equipment need extensive repair and updating in order to carry out effective cleaning.
“Therefore, on behalf of the workforce, we would request that the general public take these matters on board when considering the cleanliness of public areas,” the GGCA said.
“We understand that, this weekend, our members have been working longer hours on an overtime basis to try and achieve higher levels of public hygiene.”
“Nevertheless, until the recruitment process and the vehicles, machinery and equipment are repaired and replaced where necessary, the workforce will not be able to achieve the standard of excellence to which they aspire.”
“It is extremely demoralising for the workforce to be at the receiving end of the negative comments and criticism when they have ultimately been the victims of contractual arrangements which have been completely outside of their control.”
The GGCA said it would continue to support its members during this period of change.