A UNION boss today said Kirklees Council's schools partnership with troubled company Jarvis was "a disaster" as it was announced the five-year deal had ended.

Unison chief education steward Mike Forster slammed the council's Private Finance Initiative deal with Jarvis and called for the district's schools to be returned to the public sector.

Kirklees said yesterday it wanted to axe Jarvis from a project providing services to 19 schools.

Hundreds of staff at the schools were under contract to the company.

Mr Forster said: "Public services should be run by the public sector and not by companies in business to make profits.

"The council should now bring all staff back in-house and employ them. Kirklees should take responsibility for maintaining schools.

"The current arrangement is damaging pupils' education, the maintenance of schools and the morale of staff."

Mr Forster said more than 300 caretakers and cleaners who work in Kirklees schools had been affected by the relationship with Jarvis.

He added: "There have been massive problems for staff.

"They are on worse wages and conditions of service, there has been a huge turnover and high sickness absence levels.

"Within the schools there have been massive building delays, as well as ongoing faults which have left Jarvis a laughing stock."

But Mr Forster did not foresee job cuts.

He said: "We don't think schools can afford to operate without cleaners or care- takers.

"But we all have to be concerned about who is employing them, how they are paid and what is on offer."

A spokesman for Jarvis said: "The company is currently very well advanced with its partners on 14 construction projects, of which Kirklees is one.

"It is agreeing a way forward to complete all the construction activities it is currently running and there are some outstanding in Kirklees.

"Jarvis has also made it clear it wishes to dispose of its facilities management businesses and is pursuing a number of options to that end.

"In the meantime it will maintain all services it is contracted to, including Kirklees," the spokesman added.