Belfast Telegraph

Fury as cleaners in PSNI stations face cut in hours

By Allan Preston

Plans to drastically cut the hours of workers who clean PSNI stations have been slammed by a union and a DUP MLA.

In September last year the Mount Charles Group took over a contract for the cleaning of the stations after a retendering process.

Now the Nipsa union says it has received proposals to cut 20% of the total hours, with staff in some stations faced with losing half their working week.

Nipsa official Dooley Harte called the proposed cuts "extreme".

"These plans will drastically impact on low paid cleaners, many of whom have worked cleaning police stations for over 25 years," she said.

"Nipsa will oppose these plans by all means necessary and have raised the matter with the Minister for Justice and the Chief Constable, seeking their intervention.

"These low paid workers have been treated very badly and many will be forced out of their jobs if these cuts to service go ahead."

Mid Ulster DUP MLA Keith Buchanan, who is a member of the Policing Board, said both the PSNI and the Mount Charles Group had questions to answer about the potentially devastating cuts.

"These reductions, if correct, would have a substantial impact on the income of workers who are on minimum wage," he said.

"Whilst there is an obvious focus on the company who are now in charge of the contract, the PSNI should also answer questions about how the tender was assessed and whether the service can be adequately provided under the successful bid."

He added: "Given how quickly these changes have been introduced following the retendering process, there is a very obvious concern that a low bid was accepted that could not allow the service to be delivered at the same levels.

"I have requested a meeting with representatives from the PSNI to discuss these concerns.

"Those civilian staff who operate in police stations must be treated with respect, particularly given the circumstances of Northern Ireland and the threat which exists around policing here."

The Mount Charles Group said it was now engaged with Nipsa over staffing levels.

It said: "We carefully reviewed the tender specification and based our submission on commercial benchmarks, establishing the level of resource we believe is required to successfully deliver the contract to the highest professional standard.

"A consultation into staffing levels is now under way, with the objective of improving productivity as per our tender response.

"And the Mount Charles Group has been in ongoing conversation with Nipsa for several weeks regarding the matter."

The PSNI was also contacted about the issue, but hadn't responded by last night.

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