Day in the life of a janitor part 2—local authority newsletter

The local authority newsletter is focusing on jobs across local authorities to show how valuable our public sector workers are and the hard work they put in under difficult conditions and often low pay.

Today our focus is on Tam (not his real name) who works for a Lanarkshire council as a janitor. Tam works across a number of facilities and earns just £450 per week—around three quarters of the UK’s average wage.

Give a brief description of your work

I make sure the facilities are properly and safely open. I ensure it is warm and welcoming and that maintenance is kept up to scratch. I deal with repair workers on a very frequent basis. I close the property securely. One facility has been subjected to a break-in and vandalism so I have to be constantly on my guard for the safety of staff and users.

Do you believe you have job security?

Not so much now. The council was struggling with the budget cuts before the impact of the virus and there was much talk about redundancies. I think it is only a matter of time before this is raised again, even though it was only last year that we went through a major restructuring.

Did you work through lockdown?

Yes, I was working in a school hub.

Did you feel at risk of getting COVID-19?

Yes. At the beginning of lockdown the set up of the hubs was poor. We had different pupils from multiple schools and different teachers from multiple schools attending. I never knew if any of them were abiding by social distancing rules or staying at home so I always felt vulnerable

Do you think you will be exposing your family to danger?

Yes—and with a partner and children at home, I was constantly conscious of this.

What support did you receive from your employer?

Nothing! They were all working from home and made little or no attempt to keep in contact.

Do you think you are adequately paid?

No. With the amount of cut backs and restructuring, my job has changed significantly and each time it does I feel the employer tries to cut back my earnings.

During the lockdown, I felt the essential frontline workers were being used as cannon fodder as the managers were allowed to stay at home and watch from a safe distance. Cleaners still don’t have adequate PPE.

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