New contract to hit school cleaner jobs

Joan Lemaire
Senior Vice President

School cleaners' union United Voice has reported that the new “whole of government” cleaning contract put out for tender has stripped out job security provisions for cleaners.

This will affect the majority of the cleaning work done in schools. United Voice said the new contracts will force 7000 cleaners to reapply for their jobs. This puts the cleaners’ jobs at risk and could result in some cleaners losing entitlements such as sick leave, which have been built up over many years.

United Voice said that currently school cleaners receive a lower pay rate but this is made up by the provision of rostered days off. These days, combined with annual leave, enables cleaners to be employed during school holidays. There is no commitment to continue this practice. This lack of security and uncertainty may make it hard to recruit a stable cleaning workforce.

Not only are jobs at risk, but United Voice has said there is no guarantee of cleaning hours and that the tender is based on a square metre measurement.

This may not take proper account of the fact that some areas such as covered outdoor learning areas or science labs may require more intensive cleaning. Cleaning contracts over the past 24 years have included a guaranteed number of hours.

Any reduction in either the hours, or number of cleaners, means cuts to cleaning in schools. Teachers and principals have raised concerns that the cleaning hours under the current contract are inadequate, despite the best efforts of cleaners.

The overall effect of these changes undermines the working conditions of cleaners and the services they provide to schools. Federation urges members to support United Voice’s campaign.

Federation urges members to support cleaners by accessing the United Voice website and:

  • write to the Premier using the online tool
  • join the photo section with messages of support.

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