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Union seeks $1m penalty from Spotless

United Voice is seeking more than $1 million in penalties against facility service provider Spotless.

The cleaner’s union alleges Spotless conspired to underpay 58 cleaners more than $270,000 in wages by entering into an agreement that saw cleaners in nine Myer stores in Melbourne illegally classified as independent contractors.

“This was a scam to underpay some of the lowest paid workers in Australia, involving some of this nation’s biggest corporate players,” said United Voice national secretary Jo-anne Schofield in a statement issued to INCLEAN.

“Myer and Spotless wanted to pretend these cleaners were independent contractors. They were not; they were employees and they had their penalty rates, their leave entitlements and their superannuation stolen from them by billion-dollar companies.”

United Voice claims the cleaners were paid a below-award rate of $20 an hour.

Correct pay rates ranged from $21.23 to $24 for a shift rate, $36 an hour for Saturdays and $48 an hour for public holidays.

“In the hospitality industry wage theft is now the dominant business model,” said Schofield.

“What our submission shows is here is another industry that is rotten to the core. The rules are broken – only comprehensive legislative change will end this kind of systematic exploitation.

“It is rare to uncover documentary evidence showing the finger prints of major companies all over scam like this. This case rips away the corporate veil.”

In 2015, United Voice member Rafael Colobon was sacked from his job as a cleaner at Myer after claiming workers were being paid below the aware rate, denied penalty rates and superannuation, and were working without Work Cover insurance.

Colobon worked for INCI Corp, which operated cleaning services for Myer via cleaning contractor Spotless.

A Spotless spokesperson told INCLEAN the company denies any evidence of a conspiracy to undertake sham contracting and that it rectified the matter in 2015.

“Spotless is proud of the many thousands of jobs it provides across Australia and New Zealand offering essential cleaning services to a large number of companies,” said the spokesperson.

“Our cleaning staff are critical to our success and we work closely with our workforce and their representatives to ensure they receive the right pay and entitlements. Spotless rectified the matter back in 2015, and all of the individuals involved were appropriately paid.

“We deny any evidence of a conspiracy to undertake sham contracting.  The matter they refer to is currently before the Federal Court of Australia and is being vigorously defended.”

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