In 2018, United Voice members lead the charge to reform the School Cleaning industry in Victoria. Our report found that 80.54% of School Cleaners had been underpaid on average $3100 per year. That means cleaners in this industry were missing out on MILLIONS in unpaid entitlements.
One example of those who were ripped-off are cleaners - and husband and wife - Hector and Rosa who were underpaid for almost 10 years while they worked at the Parkwood Green Primary School in Victoria.
When the reforms came in and they got new employers, it became apparent that their old rate was incorrect.
Luckily they were members of their School Cleaning Union and they fought to be paid back what they were owed!
Hector and Rosa won back over $45,000 in unpaid wages and super. This story is a familiar one to many in the School Cleaning union who not only have been able to reclaim thousands from wage theft but are also had an increased in their wage of up to $10 an hour. Some school cleaners were receiving as little as $12.5 an hour!
The Victorian Government's reforms meant that in, metropolitan Melbourne, 1750 different school cleaning contracts were simplified to just 8 contract zones covering different sections of Melbourne.
The new systems hasn't been perfect and we've had to pressure the Victorian government into fixing the problems which has seen them punishing some contractors for not giving cleaners enough hours. But the new system means we can enforce accountability and we've already seen many who have benefited from the changes. Union members will continue to improve the system to build a fairer and more sustainable school cleaning industry.
But we can only do it by being united as a union! As Hector said "We are union because the union fights for the workers rights, we will always fight for the workers rights."