School cleaners went on strike yesterday afternoon over plans to privatise their jobs.

Union GMB held the demonstration at Prospect School on Tuesday afternoon (October 23) alongside cleaners after “cleaning staff were told not to speak to students and teachers”.

Nikki Dancey, GMB Regional Organiser said: “This dehumanising request would never be made of any other staff, but it seems that the cleaners are being treated as ‘second class’ workers who should be seen but never heard.

“I hope the head teacher will see sense and delay the process.”

She said some of the staff have worked at the school for more than 30 years, and they want to continue to be employed by Prospect School, not a private company that “did not want to pay them for the first six weeks”.

One cleaner said “They don’t seem to care about us at all, or whether the school is clean for the students. It hurts a lot after working here for years.”

READ MORE: Exclusions going down at Reading schools

Campaigners and councillors joined the protest with Cllr Sarah Hacker saying “it is important to stand up for low paid workers”.

The school has said it is “disappointed” in the action.

Prospect School headteacher David Littlemore said: “Our primary concern as a school has been to continue to provide a high quality of education to our students in a purposeful and well-maintained environment.

“The well-being of our staff is also of paramount concern and, after a lengthy tender process, we have appointed a company that would maintain the current terms and conditions for our cleaners.

“It is unfortunate that there have been some misunderstandings during the process.

“As part of the normal safeguarding procedures that any reputable company would employ to safeguard their staff, the cleaners were advised that they should not ‘initiate’ conversation with students, but any suggestion that they were told not to talk to students or staff is inaccurate.

“We have worked very closely with the new company to ensure that none of the staff being transferred will be financially disadvantaged by the change in pay date.

“Despite further discussions we’ve had with the GMB Union and the cleaners involved in order to address these concerns, and further meetings which have already been arranged, the GMB Union has decided to take this approach, whilst we are still open to resolving this dispute through meaningful and constructive dialogue.”