Cleaners from across the country spoke out to a Senate inquiry into wage theft from cleaners, winning a series of recommendations to address problems in the industry.
Props to brave United Voice members who spoke at hearings, including Wendy from Tasmania, Arthur from South Australia and two Canberra cleaners who made powerful statements about how they lost their jobs on contract changeover.
Their voices were heard by Senators, and the resulting report recommended sweeping changes to the industry including:
- A government review to examine industry-wide collective bargaining as a way of addressing flatlining wage growth.
- New laws banning companies or their associates found guilty of breaching employee entitlement laws from tendering for Commonwealth contracts.
- A national licensing scheme for labour hire companies.
- Changed laws to address “pyramid sub-contracting”, where head contractors take no responsibility for their sub-contractors.
If it wasn’t for United Voice members making their case, these issues would not have received the attention they needed.
The next step is for the Federal government to respond to the committee’s recommendations.
The inquiry examined the Department of Finance’s whole-of-government contract through multinational contractor Broadspectrum that left cleaners at seven Department of Jobs sites in the Australian Capital Territory worse off than under their previous contract.
The inquiry also condemned the Department of Finance for working with a sub-contractor, Prompcorp, which cut the cleaners’ wages by 16 per cent in the first instance.
The inquiry accepted Prompcorp’s associated companies have a track record of being penalised for wage theft.
Senator Doug Cameron, who led the charge to establish the inquiry, said when releasing the findings: "What we basically had was employers coming along and arguing that they had no responsibility for the wage theft being put on low-paid workers, because they had contracted their responsibilities out to a contractor and it was the responsibility of that contractor.
"This is exactly what's happening with companies around the country and with the departments under the guidance of this government: contract the work out, then deny any responsibility for those workers' wages and conditions because the contract has been signed and the company or the department don't employ these workers. It's all care and no responsibility. It's an outrageous proposition," Senator Cameron said.
Again – this wouldn’t have happened without the concerted effort of gutsy United Voice members.
By being in their Union they’ve worked together to take the first steps toward securing a job they can count on.