Can parent power save Shawlands janny?

Parents protest outside the school gates at Shawlands Primary last week
Parents protest outside the school gates at Shawlands Primary last week

This morning saw the start of a dedicated campaign to save Shawlands Primary school’s long-serving janitor, Peter Follan.

Parents met at the school gates on Friday last week (March 17) to picket in support of Peter with their #justice4jannies campaign.

The janitors, employed by Cordia, are locked in a dispute with their employer.

This centres on a failure to make payment for hazardous work and the plan to replace a single janitor per school model with a cluster. This would see four or five janitors covering up to nine schools.

One of the areas of contention is school janitors do not get paid for removing used needles and broken glass or other hazardous materials.

Parents are concerned that the standards will drop if they are to rely on a new hub with janitors who have no link to the school or its children, which Peter has.

Parent and picket co-ordinator Alicia Macrae said: “As parents our first concern is the safety, security and welfare of our children during the school day.

“Our school Janitor, Peter Folan has worked at Shawlands Primary for 16 years and is a central part of school life for children, staff and parents. Janitors do much more than just clean and lock up and we believe that every school needs a dedicated janitor.

“We fundamentally disagree with Glasgow City Council-backed plans by Cordia to reduce the coverage of janitors across our schools.

“We are here today to highlight our concerns to other parents and to send a message to Cordia and the Council that they have failed to engage with parents in this process”.

The protest has already gained support across social media from local politicians, including the First Minister (MSP for Glasgow Southside).

Chair of the school’s Parent Council, Kirstie Corbett, said: “We’ve written to Cordia and councillors already to ask for a more open dialogue with parents on this issue, and have had little in response.

“We know that other Parent Councils are concerned about this issue, and our next steps will be to work with them to further challenge Cordia and Council representatives about their longer term plans for ensuring janitorial services in our schools are properly resourced”.

A spokesman for Cordia told us: “There will be no compulsory redundancies, although the new service will operate with 33 fewer posts - achieved naturally over time or through alternative employment within Cordia.

“The reform will mean that some existing janitors will no longer have a tied house. The tied housing model for janitors is historical and played an important role in ensuring security of school buildings. Recent innovations with the use of CCTV for premise monitoring; sophisticated alarms linked to manned control centres and a range of sensors and devices on heating systems means that janitors no longer need to be available 24/7.

“Cordia is working closely with those janitors affected as well as with the trade unions to find a sympathetic solution to this issue.

“This reform provides a platform to develop a traditional service into a new, modern FM service that will place Cordia staff at the heart of the Glasgow community, and which will showcase Cordia staff and the vital services they deliver to the citizens of Glasgow as part of the Transforming Glasgow Agenda.

“We will work closely with education services during the implementation phase.”