Custodian survey: preliminary results show B.C. schools ‘in a mess’

BURNABY – Preliminary results from a survey of CUPE custodians throughout B.C. indicate that a startling number of janitors—55.4 per cent—are not able to maintain schools to meet their own expectations for a clean, safe and healthy school environment.

CUPE issued the comprehensive survey in March after increasing reports of an alarming number of conditions affecting the cleanliness of K-12 schools. Many school caretakers have detailed degradation in cleaning standards as a result of chronic cuts to public education.

Some of the issues they identified include not having enough time to complete their work (47.6 per cent); larger areas assigned with less time allotted (57.5 per cent / 50 per cent); and little or no coverage or work insufficiently done when custodians are absent (83.3 per cent). As well, more than half of respondents reported experiencing stress-related injuries and illness.

A whopping 72.4 per cent reported that some cleaning is simply left undone because of increased or unrealistic workloads. Many custodians reported doing unpaid work because it is personally important to them that schools are clean.

CUPE BC has set up a web page, www.schoolsareamess.ca, with a toll-free number, 1-844-888-MESS, for custodians and the public to share their stories.

“These results should be shocking to the public, but they are an every-day reality for our members–who see first hand the harmful affects of chronic underfunding that extend beyond classroom instruction,” said CUPE BC President Paul Faoro. “We will continue to stand up for cleaner schools for B.C’s children and improved conditions for our members.”

A final report will be issued once the survey is closed and results have been tabulated.

Mess of a policy

Clark budgets are hurting B.C. schools

BURNABY—“Who’s to blame for the mess in B.C. schools? (Hint: It’s not the hard-working custodians.)”

That’s the message of a new CUPE campaign identifying custodians as among the hardest hit workers during the BC Liberal reign of chronic underfunding for public education. The lack of support for public education has led to layoffs for many CUPE members, the service they provide lost to students.

Chronic underfunding has forced some districts to cut daytime custodian positions, leaving no janitors to clean up accidents, vomit or other messes. Increased and unrealistic workloads are causing injuries. Staff have been cut in most districts.

The campaign will direct criticism about cleanliness in schools where it belongs – to the lack of support for public education by Christy Clark and the BC Liberals – and will introduce custodians who talk about the effect of chronic underfunding in our schools.