MEDIA RELEASE Major NSW Government contractor Broadspectrum is being taken to court by the cleaners’ union for rorting low-paid school cleaners and breaching the Fair Work Act.
The case is being fought for 1600 NSW school cleaners employed by Broadspectrum (one of the state’s four school cleaning contractors). Broadspectrum is a large, wealthy, multinational privately-owned facilities management corporation with sensitive government contracts around the world.
United Workers’ Union alleges in the filing in the Federal Court that Broadspectrum did not pay cleaners for some periods the appropriate loadings, paid no overtime when overtime should have been paid and deducted money from cleaners’ wages when there was no authority to do this. In addition, Broadspectrum failed to comply with the Cleaning Award’s span of hours rules – this effectively made cleaners work split shits which spanned up to 14 hours. Further, Broadspectrum did not provide for adequate breaks for shift work and paid leave incorrectly. The union alleges failures to comply with the Cleaning Award resulted in significant reduced labour costs for Broadspectrum in circumstances where they are paid to do this work by the people of NSW. There is some evidence that managers at Broadspectrum knew about these alleged breaches of the Cleaning Award for the last six months.
Georgia Potter Butler, cleaning spokesperson for United Workers Union says, “Broadspectrum have shown constant disrespect to school cleaners since they won one of the state’s big contracts.
“Broadspectrum have ripped off a low-paid workforce, driving wages and conditions down. They have taken advantage of a workforce where over 70% of their school cleaners are from non-English speaking backgrounds, Indigenous or disabled. We believe they have failed to comply with the basic legal minimum. It’s unacceptable.
“Many of their cleaners have been working daily spans in excess of 13 hours per day, consisting of a broken shift with one early morning shift commencing about 4:00am and ceasing before about 8.30am and an afternoon shift commencing around 2.30pm and finishing around 6:00pm. The Cleaning Award provisions for these difficult working hours have been disregarded by Broadspectrum, leaving 1600 school cleaners earning less than they should be.
“The coronavirus crisis has shown the crucial role of cleaners in government buildings, schools, TAFEs and prisons across the state. Cleaners deserve better and deserve respect in their workplace.”
Arou Akot, school cleaner in western Sydney says, “We are the frontline cleaners working early and late to clean the school. We want the company to do the right thing and pay us correctly.”
United Workers’ Union publicly condemned Broadspectrum in February 2020 for seeing their school cleaners as disposable after approaching workers with an offer to clean ‘the coronavirus ship in Japan’.