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Archive for February, 2010

Cleaners Take Action

In 2006 our Union launched a Trans-Tasman campaign which we called Clean Start.

It was designed to reshape cleaning from an industry that had low standards, poor working conditions and “race-to-the-bottom” destructive competition that was not good for property owners, tenants, cleaning contractors or the hard-working cleaners.

While it was initially hard to get the cleaning contractors to see that there was any other way of doing business, support from the Property Council and the Labour Government saw a document Principles for a Sustainable Property Services Industry signed in April 2008 that brought new commitments around industry collaboration.

Unfortunately the new dawn for the cleaning industry has evaporated into a traditional stand-off with strikes taking place in schools and commercial buildings over the industry’s poverty wage rates.

While in Australia there have been agreements in all states for new pay rates of $20.00 an hour and commitments over health and safety, workloads and night payments, in New Zealand the union has been forced to take action school by school to ensure that money that was given in July 2009 for a $14.62/hour wage rate for school cleaners is handed on.

The fight is now spreading to commercial buildings as the national cleaners collective agreement, which expired 10 months ago, is still unresolved.

The cleaning contractors are offering their cleaners an increase from $12.55 an hour up to $12.80 an hour backdated to November 2009.

It is unfortunate that the visionary speeches made at Parliament in April 2008 during the launch of the Principles Agreement have never been fulfilled. It is also unfortunate that minimum wage workers have to take action to get a rate that directly-employed cleaners in public hospitals and schools have been getting for nearly a year.

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