Cleaning service provider Guardian Property Services has reportedly agreed to back pay five cleaners allegedly owed more than $150,000.
Guardian was accused by the Health Services Union (HSU) last week of exploiting and underpaying some of its aged care facility cleaners, with one cleaner allegedly underpaid more than $70,000.
“It can’t be a race to the bottom,” Gerard Hayes, HSU secretary told INCLEAN.
“It’s unfair on employees, it unfair on the industry and in terms of people trying to compete on a level playing field,” Hayes said.
“What we’ve been able to undertake here we’ll continue to pursue in other areas to ensure there is a level playing field and people are treated reasonably.”
HSU also accused the company of intimidating employees who tried to speak out and claimed the company did not issue pay slips or pay staff superannuation.
Guardian initially denied the claims, however, HSU confirmed to INCLEAN that Guardian has since agreed to reimburse five cleaners.
Among those is Ashish Pariyar, a cleaner who worked at the Anglicare aged care facility at Warriewood. Pariyar told the ABC last week he tried to raise his unsatisfactory salary with the company, but his employer did not want to talk about it, telling Pariya that they couldn’t pay him more.
“It’s very hard to survive here because [getting] underpaid [makes it] very hard to manage all the things,” Pariyar said.
Guardian has agreed to back pay Pariyar $50,000, while another cleaner has been reimbursed $40,000.
Rob Sheehy, area manager at HSU, told INCLEAN, the issue “has been ongoing” with Guardian, with three other aged care cleaners also back paid last year.
INCLEAN understands Guardian has agreed to enter an enterprise agreement and has also agreed to move to a direct employment model.
Sheehy said the HSU is in discussions to a create a framework similar to that of the Cleaning Accountability Framework (CAF) launched by the Fair Work Ombudsman, for the aged care industry.
Hayes said his message to the Australian cleaning industry is that everyone needs to work together in order to stamp out exploitation.
“This country was built on the back of a collective group of people who worked, whether as an employer or employees, for the betterment of all. This country was not built on the back of exploitation.
“We encourage everyone in the industry to work together for the betterment of not only the employer’s business, but also for the staff that support and develop those businesses.”