Cleaners take a stand

Cleaners working at Liberal senator Michaelia Cash’s office in Canberra are being ripped off.

When the cleaning contract for various government buildings was recently transferred to Broadspectrum, a third of the cleaners were sacked. Only six kept their jobs. Ten others have been left in limbo, not knowing where their next pay check will come from.

Those who remain employed will be forced to take a cut in pay and conditions. Wages are being slashed from $24 to $20 per hour, hours are being reduced and night shifts will replace existing day shifts.

These cleaners have a history of taking action. Under the previous contractor, they organised rallies to demand proper superannuation payments. In response to this attack, they, along with their union United Voice, held a snap rally on 23 August.

A sacked union member speaking at the rally pointed out that this is not an isolated issue, “This is not about an individual case, but it happens to every single person who lives and works. Hard working people are being displaced like this at the end of change of contracts”.

This worker and their partner have been targeted for being members of the union and having previously taken action:

“The selection process is not fair, because … we are United Voice members and under the previous contractor fought for our right to get super. This information has been passed on to the new management. That’s why me and my wife did not get selected.”

In the wake of the sackings, union branch secretary Lyndal Ryan has asked, “What kind of broken system is the government running that loyal cleaners are being pushed out of jobs they have held for up to seven years?” The answer is capitalism.