|Issue No 49||07 April 2000|
Cleaners Walk: We Are Humans, Not Robots!
Over-worked NSW government school cleaners have downed brooms and walked off the job for 48 hours over a drive for faster work that has left them with just nine minutes to clean a classroom.
Menzies cleaner and Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union member Miriam Carrasco told the Labor Council's weekly meeting that dedicated cleaners were no longer able to keep classrooms clean.
Miriam, who has worked as a school cleaner for 24 years since emigrating from Uruguay, said that since the cleaning service was contracted out to private operators by the former Coalition Government, conditions had worsened to the point that were now at crisis.
"When they sold the Government Cleaning Service we were promised we wouldn't suffer any changes in the future," she said.
But since the change teams have been cut from three cleaners to two; times for classrooms reduced to just nine minutes and, now, a further 24 per cent productivity target has been placed on cleaners.
And when a cleaner is sick, there are no relief cleaners, meaning the existing workers must cover.
"We now have nine minutes to do a classroom - that includes dusting, cleaning tables, windows, vacuuming and polishing floors," Miriam said. "How can one person do all that? It's a physical impossibility!"
The cleaners have called on the Premier and the Department of Education to review the contracts, rather than sending around inspectors to critcise their work.
LHMU state secretary Annie Owens says the current action follows Menzies' refusal to heed the findings of a review by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Review Tribunal (IPART) who found that: targets were ambitious over the life of the contract and very ambitious over the first two years of the contract.
The Labor Council has endorsed the action and called on the NSW Government to intervene in the dispute
Interview: Rebuilding from the Rubble
Ramona Mitussis, APHEDA's co-ordinator in East Timor reports on how Australian workers are contributing to rebuilding a nation.
East Timor: UN Poseurs Delay Reconstruction
Returning to the Dili compound where he spent five days under siege, HT Lee finds an aid bureacracy out of control.
Unions: The Last Bank in Minto
"It's a busy branch", Carol Davison insists, watching the crowd gather around the Commonwealth Bank branch at Minto Mall. By the time you read this, the branch will be another empty shopfront, stripped of its fittings, with junk mail starting to accumulate under the front door.
International: Workers of the World Unite
ILO Director-General Juan Somavia's keynote address to the ICFTU Congress in Durban, South Africa this week.
Olympics: Strange Tenants
Rentwatchers lifts the lid on the legacy the 2000 Games will leave on Sydney's tenants.
Politics: The Loneliness Crisis
Lindsay Tanner looks at the politics of the soul that form the backdrop of many of our social ills.
History: Songs of Solidarity
Visiting US labour acadmeic John Lund has found a new way to digest history - he commits workers' struggles to song.
Satire: Seven Launches 'Popstars' Spin-off
On the heels of Popstars comes a new show taking five minor celebrities and turning them into normal people
Review: Keating's Engagement
Whether it's analysis or self-justification, Paul Keating's new book is an engaging read.
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