Cleaners won greater protection against unfair dismissal and loss of entitlements in a Fair Work Commission (FWC) decision on July 12. FWC awarded the cleaners entitlements they had lost when they were transferred to a new company, after their former employer lost a cleaning contract with two Sydney hotels.
Mel Gatfield, NSW secretary of the cleaners' union, United Voice, said the case was "hugely significant”, not just for the 19 cleaners who have received $70,000 in redundancy payments, but for the legal precedent it sets.
"Workers who are transferred over to a new contractor now have greater protection from unfair dismissal, losing their parental leave and being denied flexible work arrangements," she said.
"This is particularly significant for United Voice members, who are typically employed in contracting industries. Of the 54 housekeepers made redundant, only the 19 who were union members won redundancy payment in the FWC," Gatfield said.
One of the cleaners, Prashanta Shrestha, said he was happy with the FWC decision. He had worked as a cleaner since 2013 when he migrated to Australia from Nepal.
"The agency which did not get its contract renewed wanted to get away with not paying the entitlements we were supposed to get. I believe the decision by the Fair Work Commission to reward us with the entitlements sends a message to those people who do not wish to comply with the rules and regulations," he said.