This weekend, the ABC Radio’s Saturday Extra presented by Andrew West raised the issue of cleaners’ pay. Andrew notes that Havencab promotes the payment of fair wages to their workers and that there is now an industry push to have other cleaning companies follow Havencab’s lead.
Andrew said that “A new scheme aims to use market forces to reward companies who pay cleaners fairly. The Cleaning Accountability Framework, instigated by the union United Voice, is an accreditation system that has been operating in pilot form, involving parties all the way along the supply chain – from building owners and investors to the cleaners themselves.” Listen here.
The ABC’s 7:30 presenter Leigh Sales has also drawn attention to disputes between cleaning contractors and their cleaners in regard to pay and working conditions. The ABC program reports “A cleaner at retail giant Myer has been sacked following a 7.30 story about his employment conditions.”
Last week, a Fair Work Ombudsman investigation found that Woolworths cleaners were paid ‘as little as $7 an hour’ and Woolworths has been accused of ignoring “rampant exploitation” of its contractors, with some having to deal with absurdly low salaries.
Unfortunately, these unethical practices have been going on for years. Spotless, an international services contractor, received media attention following the Walk for Cleaners a few years ago. This followed a series of strikes by Spotless-employed shopping centre cleaners in demand of better pay and working conditions. Recent disputes only scratch the surface of a much wider crisis in the industry, which critics say has been caused by the predominant use of contracts.
The commercial cleaning industry here produces over $8 billion in revenue, according to market research company IbisWorld, making the industry attractive to unethical businesses that don’t pay workers fairly.
Many have argued that a large portion of Australian cleaning contractors are lowering or avoiding minimum pay and working conditions in a race to the bottom-line to secure cleaning contracts, resulting in substandard pay and working conditions for cleaners.
You can read what you need to know here and also download a FREE checklist which you can use during the tender process as an aid to remind you to ask the right questions at Commercial Cleaning Contracts: 6 Tricks used by the Unscrupulous so that you don’t get hoodwinked.
The Ombudsman has recommended Woolworths expand its Proactive Compliance Deed, entered into last year in the wake of similar abuses in its trolley collection network, to its cleaning supply chain. It has also called on Woolworths, Coles and IGA to become members of the industry-led Cleaning Accountability Framework. The Centre for Business and Social Innovation at the University of Technology Sydney has just been awarded an Australian Research Council grant to further develop the framework, and analyse its effectiveness.
Sydney Morning Herald: Business Day
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