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Cleaners charged to apply for less-than-minimum-wage jobs in offices

03 May, 2015

Cleaners were allegedly charged $500 for jobs that pay $15 an hour claims United Voice, the cleaners' union, at one of Sydney's premiere office buildings, 388 George St. Cleaners have raised concerns about the payment for their job and the hourly rate being offered.

The building, managed by Brookfield Australia, has recently changed cleaning contractors to TFM. Cleaners will be talking to the Fair Work Ombudsman about working together to lodge a Section 550 prosecution against Brookfield for its knowledge of this exploitation and responsibility to cleaners.            

"This is yet another example of rife exploitation and massive supply chain issues in the cleaning industry," Mark Boyd, Secretary of United Voice NSW, the cleaners' union, says. "Brookfield, the building owner and manager of 388 George Street, must take responsibility for this situation.

When putting cleaning contracts out to tender, if building owners like Brookfield are looking for the lowest price, then they're simply asking for dodgy contractors who take advantage of hardworking cleaners."

Online advertisements on a Thai website advertise the cleaning jobs at the building for less than minimum wage with a heavy cost to even be considered - $500. The advertisements feature a picture of 388 George Street. When contacted by cleaners, the individual who had advertised the jobs claimed to be a subcontractor working for TFM.

"This shows that some building owners and cleaning companies are still cutting corners and putting profits above all else. And it results in a situation that's illegal and manipulative. Even when hiring a contractor, building owners are still responsible for everyone in their supply chain – including cleaners."

A recent Section 550 case with Coles was settled when Coles accepted its liability and responsibility and had to pay over $400,000 in penalties due to the company's use of a dodgy contractor who paid trolley collectors as little as $5 an hour.

"Every level of the supply chain is the responsibility of Brookfield – of the owner. Because of the Clean Start campaign, most office cleaners have liveable wages, job security and minimum shifts. They're not being mistreated with less than minimum wage work and $500," Boyd says.

"Cleaners across Sydney are still working together in the Clean Start campaign to truly reform the cleaning industry – to ensure that these dodgy practices don't occur because all stakeholders in cleaning, including building owners, cleaning companies and cleaners themselves, are working together to ensure that cleaning is transparent and accountable."

"Cleaners will continue this campaign. Because, without it, it's obvious that building owners like Brookfield and cleaning companies like TFM will do whatever they can to make a dollar – even if it means breaking the law and exploiting and abusing cleaners."

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