The cleaner’s union, United Voice, ran the first of a series of raids on cleaning company Glad Group last week after exposing its practice of repeatedly underpaying international students, stated a 26 September press release.
The raid confirmed that subcontractors engaged by integrated property services company Glad Group were illegally paying international student cleaners almost $6 an hour below award wages at 114 William Street, Melbourne.
‘Almost two-thirds of Glad Group’s city cleaners are international students and their mistreatment, as revealed in a United Voice investigation last month, threatens the viability of Australia’s export education industry,’ stated the release.
‘The raids are following the revelation that Glad has been found on 25 occasions to have under-paid Melbourne cleaners a total of $57,651.51. And last year in the Federal Magistrates Court Glad was fined $62,000 and made to repay 31 Sydney cleaners a total of $133,845.93.’
“Investigators will be demanding access to employment records, inspecting work practices and interviewing workers at numerous Glad Group cleaning sites,” said United Voice state secretary Jess Walsh. “This follows the service of right-of-entry orders.”
Walsh said Glad faced a total of 14 compliance raids at city buildings over coming days.
“We have been tipped off they are using subcontractors in several of their buildings but history suggests it could be even more widespread,” said Walsh. “We’re hitting them with what amounts to a search warrant to get the low down on pay and work practices.
“We are turning up the heat because we want to expose the use of subcontractors to undercut workers’ pay. During the current agreement in Melbourne we have stepped in to recover from Glad more than $57,000 in underpayments.
“The Sydney rorts happened because Glad subcontracted work on the cheap. We know cut-price subcontracting is continuing at Glad buildings in Melbourne,” Walsh stated. “Ripping off international students in the cleaning industry is playing Russian roulette with the future of our education industry. Glad and the cleaning industry are on notice: if they won’t stop the rorts, we will.”
United Voice wants major cleaning companies like Glad to commit to pay all cleaners equally, whether they are sub-contractors or their own employees.
The raids follow the release of A Dirty Business: The exploitation of international students in Melbourne’s office cleaning industry. That report, which exposed widespread sub-contracting and rip-offs, bullying and a toxic climate of fear, resulted from a seven month union investigation.