COUNCIL plans to get cleaners to work in East Renfrewshire schools which aren’t being used have been shelved after concerns were raised by a trade union.

The staff, who have been working on a rota to clean schools still in use by children in key groups, were told they would be back in full-time work this week, according to the GMB.

Sean Baillie, from the union, said members had questioned whether cleaning closed schools could be classed as essential work.

He stressed that employees would have needed to travel by public transport, increasing the risk to their health, as car sharing isn’t an option during the health crisis.

“We felt it was unnecessary and non-essential,” Mr Baillie said, adding that workers were relieved when the work was postponed.

In a letter to East Renfrewshire Council, the union asked for the cleaning of closed schools to not go ahead until the Scottish Government gives a date for reopening.

A spokesman for the council said safe working practices, such as social distancing, are already in place for cleaners in hub schools, which were set up for the children of key workers, and would be used for all schools.

He added: “As part of the council’s plans to prepare for a wide range of potential scenarios for our schools, measures were being put in place to ensure all buildings were cleaned to the necessary standards.

“Risk assessments and safe working practices, adhering to social distancing, are in place for all cleaning staff currently working in our hub schools which are open. Similar practices will be required when cleaning schools which are currently closed.

“Risk assessments for this have been shared with trade union colleagues, to ensure we are prepared in advance of staff returning to clean currently empty schools.

“We await further updates from the Scottish Government about future education provision and have at all times adhered to the national guidelines in place relating to returning to workplaces.”


Scotland is in lockdown. Shops are closing and newspaper sales are falling fast. We're not exaggerating when we say the future of local newspapers and the vital service we have provided for many years is under threat.

Please consider supporting The Barrhead News in whatever way you can - by paying just 90p for a copy of the newspaper when you're shopping for essential supplies for yourself and others or by subscribing to our e-edition here.