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Brent Council’s cleaning services bought back in house following tenant and union complaints

PUBLISHED: 17:25 15 January 2019 | UPDATED: 08:00 16 January 2019

Brent Council is bringing cleaning services back in house. Picture: Brent Council

Brent Council is bringing cleaning services back in house. Picture: Brent Council

Archant

Estate cleaning services have been returned to Brent Council’s control which it’s hoped will spell an end to poor treatment of workers.

Cabinet members unanimously agreed to return the service back to its control on Monday after a campaign led by union member at GMB London against Wettons Cleaning Services (WCS).

The decision comes following a report which recommended tenants and leaseholders have more control over the service, by the cleaning of council estates being handled directly by Brent.

WCS had been responsible for cleaning housing estates across the borough both inside and out after winning the contract in 2013.

GMB’s Vaughan West, GMB London political officer, said: “We really welcome this report – it’s been a long time coming.

“Wettons is a difficult company to work with, not only for me, but also for our members. Most of our members still have Brent contracts.

“These people worked in awful conditions. Some of the messiest jobs are estate cleaning, which is a massive job.”

He told of one site in Kilburn where workers’ rest room was a converted garage “with no toilet facilities, just a hole in the corner where they could relieve themselves”.

He added: “They deserve to be treated fairly. If you treat people fairly you get the best service for your residents. If you treat people poorly they won’t give you a good service.”

Cllr Eleanor Southwood, lead member for housing and welfare reform, said: “This really is about how we treat our residents and those who work on our behalf.”

She said improving the estate cleaning service became a priority last year following the decision to bring Brent Housing Partnership in-house in 2016.

She had full support from fellow members with Cllr Tom Miller, lead on community safety, saying it was a “no brainer” and Cllr Krupesh Hirani adding: “Hopefully some of the conditions people work in will be addressed.”

After the meeting Krissy O’Hagan, GMB regional officer, said: “For years our members have had to put up with minimum wage and poor working conditions under this private contractor.

“They can now look forward to decent pay and working conditions.”

Nicola Holmes, managing director of Wettons, said: “We have been made aware over the last few months that the London Borough of Brent had the intention to bring all out sourced contracts in-house in line with their manifesto.

“We have worked with Brent Housing and Brent Council since 2003 having successfully retendered the cleaning contract on a number of occasions.

“Since 2013, we have worked to change cleaning frequencies and reduce costs in line with the revised contract specification.

“We are now committed to work with Brent Council to ensure a smooth transfer to their in-house teams.”

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