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London school sacks caterers in favour of sandwich service

23 July 2012
London school sacks caterers in favour of sandwich service

A Brent school's decision to ditch its meals service in favour of sandwiches has left catering staff facing an uncertain future.

The head teacher and governors of Our Lady of Grace RC junior school, London, scrapped a contract with ISS Catering to provide a full school lunch service just days before the end of term.

Only pupils entitled to free school meals will be eligible for a sandwiches only service that is expected to commence in September, according to a statement by trade union GMB.

The jobs of seven ISS Catering staff are under threat as a result of the decision, but the caterer is in the process of finding alternative positions for them within its business.

Mark Davies, divisional director, ISS Facility Services, education, told Caterer and Hotelkeeper that a decision by a school to close its school meals service is very rare and disappointing for everyone in involved.

"The catering staff were doing a good job and now face uncertainty," he said. "The school took the decision after a long period of dialogue during which we jointly tried to find a solution to meet everyone's needs.

"My focus now is on our staff. We cannot give any guarantees at this point, but we are in the process of consulting with the staff to see if we can find them alternative roles in the company."

Mary Turner, GMB branch secretary and national president, described the move as "unacceptable" and raised concerns that school bullying could increase as a result of the move.

"The decision to provide a sandwich-only service to pupils entitled to free school meals will identify them as children of parents on benefits and these children could face bullying as a result," she explained.

"Under the previous service free school meals pupils were integrated with those who paid for their school meals, so nobody could be singled out."

No one from Our Lady of Grace RC junior school was available for comment.

By Janie Manzoori-Stamford

E-mail your comments to Janie Manzoori-Stamford here.

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