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NSW school cleaners to reapply for jobs

NSW school cleaners will be ordered to reapply for their jobs for the first time in 24 years under the NSW Government’s cleaning services contract changes.

The NSW department of Finance Services and Innovation announced employment guarantees in place since 1994 “will not be extended in the new contracts from 2018”.

A spokesperson from the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation told INCLEAN current cleaning contracts deliver cleaning services according to an “outdated formula based on fixed hours at different locations.”

“This has resulted in an uneven distribution of cleaning hours across locations of similar size and need. The government has proposed that all cleaning should be based on per square metre rates, as appropriate for individual facilities, which is the industry standard for commercial cleaning.”

Cleaners’ union United Voice said following the announcement 7000 NSW school cleaners now face an uncertain future, with many cleaners fearing that finding another job will be next to impossible, particularly in regional areas

“The government is looking to the market to set the standard for cleaners and cleaning services provision,” said United Voice NSW secretary, Mel Gatfield.

“The cleaning industry is notoriously problematic in rates of compliance with minimum workplace laws. The Whole of Government Cleaning Contract has traditionally been structured to minimise risk in the supply chain and exploitation of workers. The proposed contract is a significant departure from that approach.”

United Voice has also voiced concerns about the proposed shift from an hours based to a square metre-based pricing model under the proposed new contract arrangements.

“The quality of cleaning is directly related to having trained staff and enough cleaning hours for those staff to do a good job,” said Gatfield.

“A reduction in staff or cleaning hours will directly impact the quality of cleaning being delivered.

“It would appear that the NSW government either doesn’t understand, or doesn’t care, that this contract places job security for cleaners, and a secure and healthy learning environment for school students and staff, at considerable risk.”

The Department of Finance, Services and Innovation told INCLEAN cleaners’ entitlements under the Fair Work Act and industrial relations legislation will be protected under the new contract.

“Under the new contract, due to be in place 1 July 2018, the same government buildings will need to be cleaned to the same standard, so there will be significant employment opportunities for cleaners,” the department said in a statement issued to INCLEAN.

“All current cleaners will be offered an interview and significant job opportunities will continue as the same 4,200 government sites will still need to be cleaned to the same standard. The new contract aims to ensure there are opportunities for as many cleaners as possible to be re-employed by the successful tenderers.

“Additionally, the contract will also have the capacity to increase the participation of Aboriginal people in employment and assist Aboriginal businesses to achieve their employment goals. National Disability Services (NDS) will also have the opportunity to work with Australian Disability Enterprises (ADE’s), to assist people with disability to gain employment.”

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