Bans on cleaning toilets, replacing toilet paper and emptying rubbish bins will begin today when cleaners impose work stoppages in some of Melbourne’s best known office buildings and warn office workers to BYO toilet paper and soap.
Cleaners working for Consolidated Property Services recently voted overwhelmingly for the bans because of the company’s refusal to negotiate a fair pay rise.
Cleaners, who have not had a pay rise since 2012, are frustrated at Consolidated’s stalling over a claim for a 3 per cent pay increase and an end to exploitative subcontracting.
The bans affect tasks including restocking hand towels, soap and toilet paper, kitchen cleaning, emptying rubbish bins and dishwashers, refilling toilet paper and toilet cleaning.
Up to 27 city buildings could be affected including major landmarks like Freshwater Place, 101 Collins Street, the NAB building at 700 Bourke Street, the CBA building at 365 Bourke Street, Casseldon Place at 2 Lonsdale Street and the Optus Centre at 367 Collins St.
A ballot of cleaners showed 96 per cent support for the actions.
“Consolidated has had fair warning that this day was coming,” says Jess Walsh, secretary of United Voice, the cleaners’ union.
“Cleaners have met a dozen times with Consolidated but without making any serious progress. For office workers in buildings cleaned by Consolidated it would be wise to begin a habit of BYO toilet paper and soap.”
One major cleaning company, Glad, has committed to paying a 3 per cent pay rise for the next four years, and ending sub-contracting of international students as a source of cut-rate cleaners.
The deal signed by Glad is conditional on six of its competitors, comprising most of the CBD cleaning market and including Consolidated, signing the same deal.
But Consolidated, which employs more than 400 city cleaners, is trying to insist that more companies, some of which are not part of the CBD industry, also sign the deal before it takes effect.
“Cleaners are reluctant to take this action, but it’s a last resort because Consolidated has shown it is not genuine about seeking a resolution,” says Walsh.
“Today is just the start. This will continue until Consolidated treats cleaners with respect.”