Security for public school cleaners

Released 16/04/2019

For some time the government has been concerned about the treatment of vulnerable workers in our community. The government went to the 2016 election with commitments about tackling this issue.

Within my portfolio responsibilities, I have been particularly focused on improving the employment conditions of government school cleaners engaged by contracted service providers. With the support of my colleagues, I have decided that from the beginning of 2020 the government will directly employ a cleaning workforce to clean government schools.

Many of these workers, nearly 300 people, are migrants or refugees in our community. A large number of these workers are from the S’gaw Karen people group now living here after fleeing conflict in Myanmar. There is also a cohort of Iranian refugees and some who are Bhutanese migrants. Others, local people, typically come from a modest personal background.

All of these workers are employed to do undervalued work in an industry where low paid, unfair and insecure employment is structurally entrenched. The government has made numerous enhancements to contracts and contract management with the aim of ensuring ethical, industrially-compliant employment for government school cleaners.

It has become clear through this process that achieving the government’s high standard is unlikely to occur through an outsourced service in this instance. This is why, from 2020, government school cleaners will be directly employed by the government.

Canberra has a proud history of welcoming refugees. Securing good jobs for these people, where they are respected and treated fairly, will make an important contribution to continuing our shared commitment to embracing and celebrating cultural diversity.

Equally, for all of these workers, regardless of where they are from, this decision will improve social inclusion and our response to problems like poverty, deprivation and disadvantage.

The government will continue to take steps to improve the treatment of vulnerable workers in our community through a range of measures.

- Statement ends -

Section: Yvette Berry, MLA | Media Releases

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