Lobbying blitz as workers escalate push for 21st century long-service leave scheme

With the jobs debate dominating the Federal Election, workers today will step up their push for Victoria to catch up with other states and introduce a portable long-service leave scheme.

Sixty one workers will hit State Parliament today to tell 55 MPs from across party lines that a portable long service scheme is critical to ensuring our growing services sector offers good, secure jobs to Victorian workers and their families.

The lobbying effort comes as cleaning and security union United Voice today releases a survey of 313 cleaners and security officers who have worked 7+ years in their industry, showing 85 percent have never taken long-service leave.

Victoria’s Inquiry into Portability of Long Service Leave Entitlements is set to hand down its final report within a month and at least a dozen unions and peak union bodies, along with VCOSS and other community groups, are backing the push for a portable long service leave scheme.

Cleaners and security officers, who are often employed at the one site for many years, face a revolving door of employers. When a contract change occurs, which can occur every few years, workers’ leave entitlements are erased.

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“Jobs is a key issue this election, as it should be. Unemployment is too high and Victoria is bleeding good, secure jobs in manufacturing that were once the backbone of our economy.  They’re being replaced with low-paid, insecure jobs in industries like cleaning and security,” said Jess Walsh, Victorian Secretary of United Voice.

“If service industry jobs are the future for our state then we need to make sure they are good ones, for the sake of the current workforce and all our children. The fact is the current long service model is failing these workers – almost no cleaner of security officer ever gets to take it.”

“When a new company wins a cleaning or security contract, workers at these sites often lose all their long-service leave. They miss out a critical on an entitlement, recognising loyal service.”

“Most of these workers get just the award minimum. So, if they lose their jobs, which often happens when contracts change, there is nothing to fall back on even after decades of service.”

“Cleaners and security officers are essential; they keep important buildings and spaces hygienic and safe. They deserve good, secure jobs and their loyal service should be recognised.”

 “At least 13 million people live in part of Australia where a portable long service leave scheme operates; Victoria needs to catch up and introduce a flexible 21st century long-service scheme.”

“A portable long service leave scheme will make life less precarious for these critical workers and help them stay in these vital industries and plan for their future.”

“We congratulate the Premier for initiating this process and taking it this far. We urge his government to now follow through and fix it once and for all.”

Sam Ismaili, a cleaner at 1 Treasury Place, said: “I’ve worked 37 years at Treasury Place and cleaned the offices of Rupert Hamer, Lindsay Thompson, John Cain, Joan Kirner, Jeff Kennett, Steve Bracks, John Brumby, Ted Baillieu, Denis Napthine and now Mr Andrews. I should have been able to take it four times but I haven’t taken it once because we keep losing it. It’s not fair.”

Workers will meet with MPs from Labor, Liberals, Nationals, Greens and independents, and raise a range of issues including the need for a portable long-service leave scheme, labour hire licensing and stronger procurement standards. 


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