In an Australian first, Canberra-based cleaning firm Harmony Community Cleaning has partnered with online marketplace Airbnb to launch a pilot program designed to promote fair pay and conditions for its workers.
Launched in Canberra on Wednesday 27 February, the pilot will see Airbnb promote Harmony Community Cleaning – Canberra’s first social enterprise cleaning firm – via the platform as the preferred cleaning company for Airbnb hosts.
Harmony Community Cleaning was started in Canberra following a two-year legal battle by a group of S’gaw Karen refugees for their entitlements from a school cleaning contractor. The Federal Court judgement found their previous employer had breached the Fair Work Act.
Jo-anne Schofield national secretary for United Voice said the pilot is about cleaning with purpose.
“Too often the cleaning industry has been shown to be incapable of cleaning up after itself, stories of wage theft and unethical behaviour are all too common. The Karen community’s collective shows there can be a way forward for the sector.”
Schofield said the program is aimed at building sustainable jobs into the new economy.
“Hosts who support the pilot will know that their cleaners are being paid the correct rate and that they are supporting an ethical cleaning collective. The pilot program brings both dignity and a professional, properly paid workforce into rented properties.
“Businesses need to get on board and we need to start seeing similar community development programs rolled out to support good jobs in the new economy.”
Member of Harmony, Jirayu ‘Jimmy’ Maneesirawong, said cleaning jobs had become the biggest part of members’ life in Australia.
“It is the main source of income that supports our day to day family needs and we love our cleaning role,” he said.
It is understood Airbnb hopes to roll out the program across the country depending on the success of the pilot in Canberra.
Harmony Community Cleaning currently employs permanent part-time workers in accordance with the Cleaning Services Award 2010.
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