Office cleaners rally for their rights

October 21, 2006

CBD office cleaners in cities across Australia and New Zealand staged protests on October 18 as part of the Clean Start: Fair Deal for All Cleaners campaign. About 70 cleaners and their supporters rallied outside the Tasmanian parliament marching to the Town Hall to present a letter to the city council.

Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union (LHMU) state secretary David O'Byrne told the rally that "an eight-hour job in the US is expected to be performed in four hours in Australia". He said that the cleaners were "caught in the middle between building owners wanting a cheap job and contract cleaning companies wanting to win the contract". The contract system "encourages a race to the bottom".

Cleaning worker Anita Eaves told Green Left Weekly: "With the new IR laws, we are losing our rights. For example, we have a two-hour call-out, but now other companies are only offering a half-hour call-out, which means sometimes you can spend more money on petrol getting to a job than you earn from doing it."

She said that many cleaners don't get enough time to do the job properly, and don't get enough hours to make a decent living. "The campaign is heading in the right direction because it is bringing cleaners — who often work on their own or in small groups — together, to stand up for our rights."

Margarita Windisch reports that up to 100 CBD office cleaners marched through the centre of Melbourne on October 17 as part of LHMU's Clean Start campaign. They rallied outside Consolidated Property Services, a cleaning contractor that has refused to support the LHMU's "responsible contractors policy". This aims at lifting workers in the industry out of poverty through negotiating collective agreements and other measures.

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.