Research

Here you'll find United Voice Victoria's research reports. 

UVxCleanstart-Report-Screen-1.jpgCBD OFFICE CLEANERS: A Dirty Business: The Exploitation of International Students in Melbourne’s Office Cleaning Industry (2013)

“I knew that people who do the same job as me earn more money than me… At the time, I just need the job and I need the money so I did it – but it’s not fair, it’s not fair at all.” — International Student CBD Office Cleaner Employed by a Subcontractor.

This United Voice Victoria investigation reveals the widespread practice of underpaying and exploiting of international students who work as cleaners in major CBD office buildings. These vulnerable students are predominantly employed by shady, fly-by-night subcontracting companies, who act as middlemen for 'reputable' major cleaning contractors engaged to clean many of Melbourne's premium office buildings. 

This report reveals that this racket (found to occur in at least one in four buildings) are often hidden by fear and intimidation.  It is estimated that students and other cleaners working for subcontractors may be missing out on as much as $15,000 per year in unpaid wages. 

 

Taken-To-The-Cleaners_international_student_report.jpgRETAIL CLEANERS: Taken to the Cleaners: Experiences of International Students Working in the Australian Retail Cleaning Industry (2012)

“[There is one supervisor] that was rude to everyone… [He was] pushing people to the edge; swearing, calling names… One guy nearly cried as [the] supervisor was rude in front of other staff members and customers.” — 'Kumar', International Student Shopping Centre Cleaner.

With a dearth of research on the employment experiences of international students, United Voice Victoria and Victorian TAFE International undertook an analysis of data and interviews from students respondents to the survey data detailed in the Cutting Corners report, along with additional interviews.

This report reveals that, like their colleagues, international student cleaners working in shopping centres faced extreme workloads and low pay. However they showed greater levels of financial stress than other retail cleaners. Around 40 per cent of students surveyed reported facing rude or abusive supervisors (nearly double that of other cleaners) while some also reported racism and discrimination in their workplace.

 

SafeGuard-911-Report-Screen-1.jpgSECURITY GUARDS: Security Failure: Preventing Another 9/11 (2011)

“When the planes hit our building ... security was ready. Ninety-nine percent of the people in the tower below where the planes hit got out.” — Debra Boston, security officer at the World Trade Centre, New York City.

Security officers find themselves increasingly at the front line of the fight against terrorism and crime. Outsourced security working in aviation security, at defence bases, oil refineries, courts and many other sensitive locations are now required to have greater skills, training and fulfil more stringent probity requirements than ever before.

This report draws on a survey of over one hundred security officers and multiple secondary sources including an important industrial case, academic research and and analysis of shifts in pay rates, training and regulation. This report demonstrates that security officer pay has failed to keep pace with the significant changes in the industry and warns that too many guards are forced to leave the industry because they can't afford basic expenses of life on current wages. With skills and experience so crucial to community safety we can’t afford not to value, and fairly pay, our guards. 

 

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RETAIL CLEANERS: Cutting Corners: Cleaners’ Struggle for Justice with Victorian Shopping Centres’ Contract Cleaning System (2011)

“I’ve been here 25 years and this company is the worst I’ve ever worked for. All I’ve ever known is cleaning and it just keeps getting harder and harder to stay at work when it’s the only work I do. I just hope that whoever this survey is going to knows that without cleaners nothing gets done and we deserve to get paid more for what we do.” — 'Sanjay', Shopping Centre Cleaner.

Low rates of pay, underpayment, unpaid overtime, areas too large to clean, excessive workloads, inadequate equipment and having to work through breaks are some of the litany of injustices experienced by some shopping centre cleaners exposed through this research.

This report by John Bottomly and Margaret Neith of Uniting Care, Creative Ministries Network was produced with the support and survey data of United Voice Victoria. It outlines how, as a contracting industry, corners are continually cut to reduce labour costs with cleaners paying the price, and why this industry is crying out for a Clean Start.

 

Safeguard-Report_Aug-2012-1.jpgSECURITY GUARDS: Safeguard: A Professional Code for the Victorian Security Industry (2010) 

“So many good guards are being scared out of the system. If you keep neglecting your guards — no rights, rubbish pay, impossible workloads — your guards are not going to work hard or take the job seriously. If they get paid as low as $12 an hour, why would they care if they’re not doing a good job on site?” — Security Officer.

Cowboy contractors are all too common in security and are a risk to security clients and guards alike. This report draws on surveys of security officers and those that rely on their professionalism for a safe and secure workplace. Too many security officers report breaches of government regulations, workplace and occupational health and safety laws and know of contractors that cut corners on services clients had paid for.

However, there are some in the industry that have been working towards change. This report, introducing Safeguard, is directed at clients of security, outlining the work that has been done by security officers and some of the largest security contractors committed to a quality security industry, including paid training and wages that better retain skilled and experienced guards.

Download the Executive Summary.

 

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SCHOOL CLEANERS: Our Dirty Schools: Kennett’s Failed Cleaning Contracts (2010)

“I feel terrible having to do unpaid overtime. I feel abused. But I’d be given warnings if I didn’t do it. People have been given warnings for not doing cleaning up to standard, even though it is clear there isn’t time.” — 'Trevor', Victorian School Contract Cleaner. 

The contract cleaning system in Victorian government schools is broken. One in ten cleaners don’t have working with children checks and students are subjected to dirty schools as under funding of cleaning contracts and cost-cutting by contractors leaves cleaners with insufficient time to do their work. Too many are not paid their legal entitlements and some self-employed cleaners report relying on the volunteer labour of friends and family.

This report, which draws on a United Voice audit of 110 schools, details the legacy of Kennett government outsourcing. While efforts were later made by the Bracks government to introduce improvements, monitoring and compliance mechanisms have failed and fundamental reform is now required. United Voice Victoria, 2010

 

 

heartbreak-hotels-cover.jpgHOTEL ROOM ATTENDANTS: Heartbreak Hotels: The Crisis Inside Melbourne’s Luxury Hotels (2010)

“There is no respect in this job. They treat you like dirt and it’s not fair because we actually make the rooms really beautiful. We deserve better.” — 'Sarah', Room Attendant, Five Star Hotel. 

This report exposes the crisis in Melbourne’s luxury hotels. It was produced by the Victorian Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Coalition but drew largely on a United Voice survey and violation reports collected by union organisers. The report, which received considerable community attention, details the dangerous, oppressive workloads of those that clean Melbourne’s four and five star hotels.

Room attendants take pride in maintaining the high standards guests expect but get as little as 15 minutes to clean a room after guests check out. Injuries and unpaid overtime are extremely common for this multicultural workforce. Our luxury hotels are ambassadors for Melbourne. Dirty hotels, sweatshop working conditions and poverty wages are not images that help cement our city as an attractive travel destination.


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