Downing Street Cleaners Are Protesting Their Treatment During The Government’s Lockdown Parties

They spent their shifts cleaning wine off of the walls

Downing Street Cleaner Protest

by Lydia Spencer-Elliott |

The nation was furious when reports emerged that government officials had been partying in Downing Street while the rest of us were unable to socialise or see our families. And, when Sue Gray's report was finally published this week, fury intensified for security and cleaning staff who had mopped up the mess (specifically red wine off the walls after the Downing Street Christmas party in 2020) after each illegal knees up.

‘I found that some staff had witnessed or been subjected to behaviours at work which they had felt concerned about but at times felt unable to raise properly,’ wrote Gray in her report. ‘I was made aware of multiple examples of a lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff. This was unacceptable,’ she said.

Fury spread to Twitter, where users showed their support for the staff: ‘I remember my mum telling me, [that] how people treat the cleaners in their workplace tells you everything you need to know about who they are,’ wrote one user. ‘Whatever your point of view, people who treat cleaners and security staff disrespectfully are the absolute worst,’ added another.

Meanwhile, Jim Melvin, chairman of the British Cleaning Council, wrote to the Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, saying: ‘At a time when many cleaning and hygiene operational staff, arguably as frontline workers, were putting themselves directly at risk to maintain high standards of hygiene and ensure that key workers and the public were kept as safe as possible during the pandemic, it is absolutely appalling and upsetting to hear that they were being treated with such contempt by people who may sit within government or the Civil Service and who frankly should know better.’

Organised by United Voice OF The World (UVW), a union which represents security guards and cleaners in government buildings, there will now be an protest outside Downing Street: ‘While government officials and staff were eating pizza, drinking Prosecco and making a mess, an army of invisible workers had no choice but to risk their lives and clean!’ they wrote online. ‘We call on all low paid and precarious workers to TELL THE Government to clean up their own mess!’ So, how can we help?

Downing Street Cleaner
©Getty

How can I show support for the Downing Street security guards and cleaners?

Join the protest

The UVW protest will take place outside Downing Street this Friday at 5.30pm until 7pm. There’s power in numbers, so joining the demonstration and making your voice heard will be a powerful move to hold the government to account and demand change.

Protestors are meeting outside the gates of Downing Street and more information can be found on UVW’s Twitter: ‘Solidarity with all cleaners, security guards and low paid workers,’ the organisation said.

Write to your MP

If you’re unable to join the protest, you can still make your voice heard by writing to your MP to express your outrage at the government’s treatment of their security and cleaning staff.

You can write to your MP directly using their name and the address House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA or email them directly using this directory.

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