Sue Gray report: Boris Johnson’s apology to cleaners and security staff ‘too little, too late’

‘Empty words will be no consolation to the hard-working cleaners and security guards who have suffered,’ worker says

<p>Boris Johnson apologised over the treatment of staff in the House of Commons</p>

Boris Johnson apologised over the treatment of staff in the House of Commons

Boris Johnson’s apology for the treatment of Downing Street cleaners and security guards during illegal gatherings is “too little, too late”, a worker has said.

The Sue Gray report detailed “unacceptable” incidents and revealed how one cleaner had to scrub red wine from a wall after a raucous Christmas party that violated Covid restrictions.

“I was made aware of multiple examples of a lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff – this was unacceptable,” the report said.

Addressing parliament on Wednesday, the prime minister said rudeness towards staff was “absolutely inexcusable” and that “whoever was responsible” should apologise.

“Frankly, I have been appalled by some of the behaviour, particularly in the treatment of the security and the cleaning staff,” he told MPs.

“I would like to apologise to those members of staff, and I expect anyone who behaved in that way to apologise to them as well.”

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) said Mr Johnson should resign and had shown a “failure of leadership”.

One of the union’s members, who works in the Cabinet Office, said: “The prime minister’s apology is too little, too late. His empty words will be no consolation to the hard-working cleaners and security guards who have suffered under his leadership.”

Paul Chiy, founder of the Cleaners Union, called the behaviour detailed in the Gray report “despicable”.

“In the pandemic, cleaners were on the frontline all the time – the minimum they should expect is a ‘thank you’, people don’t ask for much,” he told The Independent.

“This is despicable but we’re not surprised that this is happening in a place like that, it’s happening in other places as well.”

Dr Chiy said cleaners were already “underpaid, overworked and underlooked”, adding: “They are not only left to clean up the dirt but are treated as such. This is unacceptable.”

The United Voices of the World union, which represents cleaners and security guards who work in other government buildings, said it was “not in the least bit surprised”.

General secretary Petros Elia added: “These workers face disrespect on a daily basis in offices across London, not just in Downing Street.

“It is disrespectful to have rowdy parties during the pandemic and expect cleaners to mop up after you, but it is also disrespectful to pay cleaners, porters, security guards ... poverty wages, not give them full sick pay or better pensions.

'I overwhelmingly feel it is my job to get on and deliver', says Johnson after Gray report

“Most of the cleaners and security guards out there are ethnic minority workers, Black, brown and migrant people, who are disproportionately impacted by poor working conditions and racialised inequalities.”

Jim Melvin, chair of the British Cleaning Council, said the parties came at a time when cleaning staff were “putting themselves at risk to maintain high standards of hygiene” and keep the public safe.

“It is absolutely appalling and upsetting to hear that they were being treated with such contempt by people who sit within government or the civil service and who frankly should know better,” he added.

“The prime minister himself thanked cleaning staff in parliament and now we are subjected to the contents of Sue Gray’s report.

”What cleaning staff need is support and recognition from the government, not to be treated with such arrogance or disrespect.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in