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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 38, Number 25. 2nd October 1975

The plight of public service cleaners

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The plight of public service cleaners

We like to demonstrate, picket and wave placards on a variety of social and political issues that concern us. Some that spring to mind are racialism, the present government in Chile and nuclear testing, to name a few. But all these issues, though important, seem to me to lack the priority that should be accorded the welfare and dignity of our own people.

My point here concerns the female cleaners employed by the government to remove the mess left in Government offices left each by by the thousands of bureaucrats who never think of those who have to clean up their mess. In the past the cleaners have accepted what has been given to them in the way of pay and conditions and because of this they have been taken for a ride. Now they have decided to take action and it is time that those students who are so concerned about the state of our society should involve themselves.

The clearest way of appreciating the plight of those cleaners is to ask yourself whether you would settle for the following pay and conditions, because these are what you would have to accept, as told to me by one of the cleaners:
  • A pay packet of about $1.86 an hour (or $65 clear a fortnight) for working between 2.15a.m.-6.15 a.m. each morning with no such thing as a night rate or overtime rate or any other special rate. Incidentally Post Office cleaners get about $70+ for the same hours.
  • No transport from home or travelling money.
  • No transport between jobs (would you walk between jobs in the city at 3.00 am?).

    No concern by the Public Service Association which is meant to represent them.

  • No information about sick leave, holiday pay, etc.

It seems to me that someone has their priorities wrong. Either it is the bureaucrats in the Messengers and Cleaners division of the Internal Affairs Department making more by sitting on their backsides all day and working decent hours or the Government employing body, the State Services Commission.

Well the cleaners would appreciate any support that can be given on September 30 when they hear the outcome of their negotiations or after that when they might take industrial action

Andrew Wierbicki.