Church advocates support cleaners "name and shame" over wages
Canberra Auxiliary Bishop Pat Power and Parramatta Diocese Social Justice Coordinator Sr Libby Rogerson have backed a fair wage campaign being waged by cleaners.
The "Clean Start - Fair Deal for Cleaners" campaign was launched yesterday at rallies attended by 1,500 cleaners in Australian and New Zealand capitals.
Speaking at one of the rallies, Sr Libby Rogerson told the crowd that the human dignity of workers is at stake.
"We're here today because we believe the fundamental human dignity of ordinary workers, and cleaners in particular, is under threat from the WorkChoices legislation undermined by (poor) existing conditions for employment," Sr Rogerson said.
Organisers of the campaign claim that under the Government's new WorkChoices industrial relations laws, which came into effect last month, cleaners will lose up to 30 per cent of their income, which was on average already below the poverty line.
Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous union (LHMU) national secretary Jeff Lawrence said the union wants building owners, tenants and contractors to adopt a new ten point plan, which includes a call for job security and better wages.
They say they will name and shame building owners, tenants and contractors who fail to pay cleaners a fair wage.
Cleaner Herry Heryadi, who works between 4pm and midnight each day cleaning a Sydney office building, says cleaners wages are in danger of shrinking.
Mr Heryadi, who immigrated to Australia from Indonesia nine years ago, says he is typical of those in the industry, many of whom are immigrants who find it hard to make ends meet.
"There are so many requests from owners asking us to work more for less money, but we work hard," Mr Heryadi said.
The federal government's workplace watchdog, the Office of Workplace Services (OWS), has promised to investigate any claims of underpayment received from cleaners.
Others lending their support to the Clean Start campaign include Bishop Patrick Power and Canberra Raiders rugby league team captain Clinton Schifcofske.
Cleaners to 'name and shame' over wages (The Age/Australian Associated Press 20/4/06)
Cleaners fight for better wages, conditions (NZ Herald 20/4/06)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Diocese of Parramatta: Office of Coordinator of Social Justice
Australian Catholic Commission for Employment Relations
WorkChoices: A New Workplace Relations System
Employment body echoes concern on minimum wage (CathNews 27/3/06)
21 Apr 2006