11 November 2020

Hospital cleaners go on strike again after "insulting" 5 cent pay rise offer

| Dominic Giannini
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Striking workers

Hospital cleaners are seeking a higher offer than the “insulting” 5 cent an hour pay rise. Photo: Supplied.

Cleaners at Calvary Bruce Hospital have gone on strike again after negotiations broke down with cleaning contractor Compass Medirest last week.

The escalated action includes the introduction of cleaning bans, a rolling one-hour ban on emptying bins, and the replacing and refilling of toilet paper and hand towels.

Cleaners went on strike last Monday (2 November) after being offered a pay rise of five cents an hour, which was rejected as “insulting”.

Frontline workers postponed industrial action on Friday (6 November) after Compass Medirest agreed to meet with cleaners; however, the company only agreed to backpay cleaners once the agreement is registered with the Fair Work Commission.

“After three years without a pay rise, the cleaners cannot afford to wait the many months registration can often take,” the United Workers Union (UWU) said.

Hospital cleaner Sonam Choden said the process made workers feel “disrespected, humiliated, and undervalued by our employer”.

“Stop playing with our emotions and don’t take us for granted.”

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The cleaners are currently on a base rate of $22.02 an hour, which the UWU says is significantly lower than their counterparts at Canberra Hospital.

United Workers Union director of property services Lyndal Ryan chastised the company for not adequately paying workers despite doing well throughout the pandemic.

“Cleaning companies have done a roaring trade and Calvary’s cleaning contractor is no exception. They are part of a multinational company and can afford to deliver both the pay rise and back pay now,” he said.

“Whilst the company has shown contempt for its workforce the support from the general public, nurses and other hospital staff have been amazing. The community turned out for the frontline workers when they walked off because they understand the value of cleaners.

“This waiting game must end. 2020 has been a year of records. Compass Medirest has already won the record for most insulting pay offer. They don’t need to set another one.”

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