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School Cleaners In Canberra Receive Help From ACT Government

With Australia’s state governments working on their commercial cleaning contracts, cleaners across the country, in both NSW and ACT, are facing issues with their employment. The contract changes by the governments lead to school cleaners in Sydney being at risk for unemployment, while ACT cleaners are suffering the same issues.

United Voice, the union that handles school cleaners in Sydney, as well as those in ACT. The ACT chapter, in order to help commercial cleaners in the state who are facing problematic futures due to the changes in government commercial cleaning contracts, issued ex-gratia payments of AU$1100 to at least 200 cleaners across the territory.

Secretary Lyndal Ryan United Voice said that the cleaners were relieved and thankful for the payment. She says that some of them are undergoing really tough times as a result of the changes, especially since the time near the start of the next year.

The ACT government overhauled the management for the public school cleaning contracts across the territory, following news and issue about sham contracting and rampant underpayment. The changes mean that now, the ACT public schools, all 87 of them, are handled by four companies, compared to the 23 prior to the change. These changes are designed in order to ensure that the ACT government can ensure that the cleaners aren’t getting ripped off. The four companies set to handle the cleaning are:

  • ACT Commercial Cleaning;
  • Dimeo Cleaning Services;
  • Vivid Property Services, and;
  • Menzies International.

But instead of the aim of ensuring cleaners were properly paid, they were left without work, laid off by commercial cleaning companies that were not able to acquire a contract. According to ACT Education, however, said that part of the terms of that new contracts obliged contracted companies to hire people within the existing workforce or those that were laid off as a result of the contract changes.

United Voice took steps in order to deal with the damage, holding hearings with the Fair Work Commission as well as the four companies assigned the contracts in order to ensure employment for cleaners, but with the time having passed, the cleaners were forced to go into annual leave.

A lot of the cleaners were thankful for the money, which helped them during tough times. Ms. Ryan says that the changes improved on the industry, but these issues were just ‘hiccups’ in the process.

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