- BUT WITH NO PAY RISE FOR FIVE YEARS
The cleaners of Parliament House are taking action after five years of no pay rises. Politicians – who have enjoyed pay rises in that period – are being asked to help fund a living wage for the hard working staff who keep Parliament House clean.
United Voice, the cleaners union, has set up a company – We Clean the People’s House.
We Clean the People’s House is a not-for-profit company with the sole purpose of collecting donations from the politicians at Parliament House to be distributed quarterly to the cleaners. The company will operate until the cleaners achieve a living wage.
The company has three directors:
- John Falzon, CEO St Vincent de Paul Society
- Jo-anne Schofield, National Secretary United Voice; and
- Hilary Russell Wardle, solicitor.
The company has the charitable purposes of;
- To provide respect and support and appreciation to those who clean Australian Parliament House (APH)
- In particular to provide financial help to cleaners at APH until such time as the Board determines that the cleaners are paid a living wage
- To seek or receive donations to apply these objects.
John Falzon says, “The people who clean Parliament House deserve respect. You don’t treat people respectfully by cutting their wages. You don’t treat people with respect by ignoring their demand for justice. You don’t treat people with respect by pretending that they are not there. The people who clean Parliament House are not invisible people. They are people. They have families they are struggling to support and rents they are struggling to pay. We are proud to stand with them in solidarity and with deep respect.”
Lyndal Ryan, United Voice ACT Branch Secretary says, ‘It’s like the cleaners of Parliament House keep having dirt thrown in their face. It is outrageous that they have had no wage rise for five years, whilst the population of the building has risen to 5,000 when Parliament is sitting and with more functions taking place. Meanwhile, the cleaning workforce has been cut dramatically, putting a huge workload and extra stresses on the hard-working staff.
“It’s got to the stage where we need to ask for help for the cleaners to earn a living wage, and we are asking for a fortnightly donation from our well-paid politicians. Malcolm Turnbull could fix this today by reinstating the Commonwealth Cleaning Services Guidelines that Tony Abbott axed.
“If Mr Turnbull can’t look after the cleaners who clean his office and bathroom, he is sending out a negative message to Australians in low-paid professions that he doesn’t care about their living standards.
“The wage setting system in Australia is broken; we are seeing a system that rewards the wealthy with wage increases and tax cuts, whilst freezing the wages of the low paid. Everyone deserves a job that they can count on to pay their bills.”
Limro Cleaning Services has a contract with the Department of Parliamentary Services, which runs Parliament House, to clean all areas of the important building. The wage freeze began when the Abbott government repealed the Commonwealth Cleaning Services Guidelines as part of its ‘war on red tape’.