Cleaning staff at Police Scotland have hit out as they say a contract awarded to a multinational private firm has left them suffering problems with pay, holidays and supplies.

Atalian Servest was given a five-year £75m contract in January to provide cleaning services at 450 Police Scotland buildings, having previously been awarded contracts for facilities management and for security services at Cop26.

Staff frequently handle sensitive information, and have to pass rigorous security checks before taking on the work, with the contract also providing for pest control and fire safety management.

Despite this union organisers say most do not earn more than the living wage of £10.90.

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GMB Scotland have urged Police Scotland to review the contract, after a series of complaints from members since Atalian Servest took over the contract from Churchill in April.

The union says these include wages being wrong; the HR portal where staff can check pay and holidays being unreliable; agreed holidays being refused; staff now being asked to work Bank Holidays; and supervisors not being allowed to give up the role despite not being paid more for the extra responsibility.

GMB Scotland claims management have refused to engage meaningfully with workers’ concerns and will demonstrate outside Police Scotland headquarters at Clyde Gateway, Glasgow, on Friday calling for urgent action and an end to the out-sourcing of public services contracts.

HeraldScotland: John Slaven, GMB Scotland organiserJohn Slaven, GMB Scotland organiser (Image: GMB Scotland)

Organiser John Slaven said: “Since Atalian Servest took over this contract, we have been inundated with calls from members.

“These are workers cleaning some of the most sensitive offices in Scotland. To do their jobs they willingly undergo extra vetting and security checks but in return are being treated with little respect and no consideration.

“These are low-paid workers who are suffering mistakes with their wages at a time of unprecedented financial pressures.

“They are suffering again because of every few years this contract changes hands with private companies vying to take as much profit out of our public services as they possibly can.

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“It is shameful that a public service like Police Scotland is being associated with this kind of treatment of workers providing such a vital service.

“Our national police force should not be outsourcing these services and it is beyond time for the Scottish Police Authority to be taking responsibility for the lowest-paid workers in their offices.”

In March of this year Atalian Servest sold its UK, Ireland and Asia operations, along with its specialist automotive division Aktrion, to private investment firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice.

The private equity firm was ranked 18th in Private Equity International's PEI 300 ranking of the largest private equity firms in the world.

Clayton Dubilier & Rice had previously bought over OCS Group, and over the next 12 months Atalian Servest and OCS will be merged, creating a single company with a combined turnover in excess of £2bn.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: "Atalian Servest was appointed following a procurement process in accordance with our statutory obligations.

"These staff concerns have been brought to our attention and in accordance with our commitment to Fair Work practices, Police Scotland has arranged a meeting with all representatives and staff to understand these issues and help support a resolution to these matters."

Atalian Servest have been contacted for comment.