UNIONS will protest against a Kirklees Council decision to award another school refurbishment contract to Jarvis.

Members of the local government union Unison, supported by other local unions, will lobby councillors before a full council meeting at 1.30pm tomorrow at Huddersfield Town Hall.

In November it was announced that Jarvis will handle the £25m contract for the shake-up of special schools across Kirklees.

A new school will be built in Newsome to replace Highfields at Edgerton and Turnshaws at Kirkburton.

Jarvis, together with building firm Totty, will also be working on new schools for Fairfield, at Heckmondwike, and Longley School, Huddersfield, along with work to re-shape and extend Ravenshall at Dewsbury under the Government's Private Finance Initiative.

But Mike Forster, a spokesman for Unison, claimed Jarvis had had a very poor record, both as an employer and a building contractor over the last two years .

He said: "Our experience in Kirklees has been one of huge delays, poor workmanship, escalating costs and poor health and safety.

"Jarvis has been working in 20 of all mainstream schools and their name has almost become a joke. They do not appear to be accountable to anyone and therefore building deadlines do not appear to have been adhered to.

"Ultimately, as a recent head teachers' report confirmed, it is the pupils' education that has suffered.

"If this is the legacy of Jarvis, how can they have been awarded this second contract? It is clearly a disgrace that such a record of failure should be rewarded with yet another plum building contract.

He said the protest lobby had been called to mobilise the sense of anger at the council's decision and to demand decent public funding for services.

The contract will be the second major PFI project the council has undertaken with Jarvis.

The first, which began in summer 2001, involved refurbishing 20 schools as part of a £43m, 27-year project.

A Jarvis spokesman said: "We are disappointed that the local branch of Unison has chosen to overlook the benefits that the recent investment in Kirklees schools has made to the teaching and learning environment in them and has adopted a singularly negative approach.

"We refute all the allegations made and, in regard to our bid to work with the Council on a second partnering contract, can only state that they have chosen us as their preferred bidder based on the bid that we submitted in competition with others and in full knowledge of the facts regarding our previous performance."