Vanguard June 2014 p.5
On 20 March 2014 the Abbott Government announced that it was abolishing Commonwealth Government procurement guidelines and regulations that required contractors to pay cleaners above award wage increases.
For a cleaner employed on a Clean Start Union Collective Agreement by a contract cleaning company in, for example, the High Court building in Canberra or Parliament House itself, will receive a wage cut from 1 July 2014 of between
14% and 20% and over the next four years of another 8% .
The Abbott Government's cold hearted attack on cleaners’ wages comes at a crucial time during cleaners' struggle to win a second Clean Start Agreement. The Agreement is being strongly resisted by the big commercial property owners and their mouthpiece the Property Council of Australia. No doubt they were gloating at the Abbott announcement to cut cleaners’ wages in government buildings.
However their gloating may be short lived as cleaners re-group with even more determination to hold on to what they have won through years of struggle and to win moderate wage increases to keep up with rising costs of day to day living.
Since Abbott came in to administer capitalism on behalf of the ruling class he has deliberately attacked the wages of some of the lowest paid workers in Australia – child care workers, aged care workers and now cleaners.
All these workers are covered by United Voice union which has coverage of many non trades service industry workers. It has developed innovative strategies to organise these workers who are often isolated and in precarious insecure work. It is these workers that the Abbott Government on behalf of the Business Council of Australia (BCA) is determined to keep on poverty wages. These workers are what the BCA consider to be “non- core” workers and they need to keep these workers on very low pay so they can bribe or buy off their higher paid “core” workers without eating in to their thirst for rising profits.
As thousands of people yelled on March In March day recently, the attack on workers’ wages is “Not In Our Name”.
Next on the BCA and Abbott agenda for a low wage country is abolishing weekend and shift rates.
Resistance from workers is sure to grow.