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Issue #1646      July, 9, 2014

Defence cleaners left hanging

Cleaners of Defence buildings under the Garrison Support contract are waiting to find out if they will lose their jobs or have pay cuts because of the federal government’s dumping of the Commonwealth Cleaning Services Guidelines.

The fate of the 50 cleaners is in limbo following a decision by Defence not to renew the cleaning contract of their employer. The cleaners are employed in the ACT and parts of NSW. Under the Guidelines their jobs and pay rates would have been protected at change of contract time.

The Catholic Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn, the Most Reverend Christopher Prowse has urged the government to protect the pay and working conditions of government cleaners, describing them as “new Aussie Battlers”. (Canberra Times 06-07-2014)

Employment Minister Eric Abetz rejected the Archbishop’s request on ABC TV’s Insiders program. Lyndal Ryan, ACT branch secretary of United Voice, the cleaners’ union, said: “On Sunday Eric Abetz repeated Tony’s Abbott’s Question Time statement of June 16 that cleaners’ wages have not been cut.

“Now it’s time for Eric Abetz to confirm the jobs of these 50 Garrison Support contract cleaners will be secure when the cleaning contract changes hands on October 1 and that their pays will not be cut.

“It’s cruel to leave these hard working cleaners hanging, not knowing if they will have jobs or if they will be able to afford their rent and mortgages when the contract changes. Eric Abetz must tell them what will happen to their jobs and wages.

“I urge the Minister to heed the advice of experts and to reconsider his government’s opposition to the Guidelines. They provide a practical framework for fair jobs for Government cleaners.

“Without them the Minister is guaranteeing standards will nosedive in this industry which has a documented history of dodgy operators and widespread exploitation of cleaners.

“The Minister has extolled the virtues of a level playing field. The Guidelines’ level playing field left government, contractors and cleaners better off. Unfortunately, Eric Abetz’ level playing field leaves people worse off and on poverty wages. It shouldn’t be like that,” says Lyndal Ryan.

Next article – Uni policies flawed

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