Minister for Jobs Michaelia Cash is presiding over a broken system that has allowed the sacking of more than one third of cleaners who have cleaned her Department’s offices for years.
“It’s hard to think of a Minister who lives up to her portfolio title less than Senator Cash,” United Voice ACT Branch Secretary Lyndal Ryan said today.
“If Senator Cash was a real Minister for Jobs, her government would not be allowing cleaners to be thrown on to the scrap heap at the whim of a sub-contractor.
“What’s more, the dubious track record of the new cleaning company should raise alarm bells for the minister.
“It looks like the Minister for Jobs might be seeing the next case of wage theft play out in her own offices.”
Ms Ryan was speaking after the transfer of a cleaning contract for various Commonwealth Government Buildings in Canberra to cleaning company Broadspectrum, affecting about 24 cleaners. The majority of cleaners are vulnerable visa workers.
The offices affected by the transfer of cleaning contracts include the ACT offices of the Department of Jobs and Small Business, and the Department of Education.
Workers have learned that Broadspectrum has subsequently transferred the contract to a joint venture involving Prompcorp, whose principal has previously been involved in companies that have been publicised by the Government’s own Fair Work Ombudsman in cases where cleaners have been underpaid almost $20,000.
Ms Ryan said the poor track record of the principal’s other companies meant there should be an immediate halt to work being sub-contracted to Prompcorp.
In meetings, workers have been told by Prompcorp that they would have to reapply for their jobs, that they would be moved to night shifts from current early-morning shifts, and their wages would be cut from $24.06 to $20.21 an hour.
More than a third of cleaners have been told they no longer have a job.
“What kind of broken system is the government running that loyal cleaners are being pushed out of jobs they have held for up to seven years?” Ms Ryan said.
“Even if they are successful, they will cop a 16 per cent pay cut and will be forced on to night shifts.
“This disrupts their lives because many of these cleaners were already working a second night job just to make ends meet.”
Prompcorp’s sole director Francis Xavier Scarce was a director of RCS Cleaning Services in 2015 when it was publicised by the Fair Work Ombudsman for sub-contracting Myer cleaning work to companies that underpaid cleaners $6300 in less than a month.
Scarce was also a director of Pioneer Cleaning Australia in 2015 when it was publicised by the Fair Work Ombudsman for sub-contracting Myer cleaning work to companies that underpaid workers $12,000 in six weeks.
“It really is the salt in the wound that race-to-the-bottom cleaning contracts for Commonwealth Government buildings are being dished out to the same old faces from companies that have already been mentioned in Fair Work Ombudsman press releases,” Ms Ryan said.
Since Commonwealth Governments scrapped the Cleaning Services Guidelines under the Abbott government, a new contractor does not have to offer existing workers a job. The Guidelines ensured that existing workers received a job on above award wages.
“Our country should be better than this,” Ms Ryan said.
“The Commonwealth Government’s rollback of attempts to civilise the cleaning market through the Cleaning Services Guidelines is leaving vulnerable workers with nowhere to go.
“Allowing companies that are the caliber of Prompcorp to clean Commonwealth Government offices is a nadir in modern industrial relations.”