United Voice warns pay and conditions for cleaners under threat

Unions say that conditions and pay are under threat for hundreds of school and hospital cleaners in Canberra as the government moves to an outside manager.

As the government moves to outsource the management for cleaning in the public sector, United Voice has said that conditions and pay are under threat for hundreds of school and hospital cleaners in Canberra, reported The Canberra Times on 26 April.

Cleaning contracts are currently managed directly by the government, who United Voice says plans to ‘move all of the work to an outside company, repeating the model it uses for public housing, where maintenance is handled by Spotless’.

The government ‘expects to save $3.4 million a year and has already shortlisted six companies in its search for a head contractor’, reported Canberra Times journalist Kirsten Lawson.

The companies include Spotless Facilities Services, Brookfield Global Integrated Solutions, Jones Lang LaSalle, Broadspectrum, DTZ and Programmed Facilities Management.

Lyndal Ryan, ACT branch secretary for United Voice, said that “there were about 400 cleaners in schools, 150 in health and 100 in public service offices, some on small single-building contracts”.

“The plan to use an outside manager threatens their wages, conditions and security of employment,” she said.

She also added that “the cleaning industry has ‘appalling’ records on wages and conditions and needed stringent management.”

A government official stated that “a range of contract work currently independently arranged with hundreds of individual contracts across government will be integrated into the Total Facilities Management contract.”

The government spokesperson also added that this was “part of the government’s plan to modernise contracts and service arrangements and achieve the same outcomes while saving ratepayers money.”



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