11 Apr 2023

Union launches bid for Fair Pay Agreement on behalf of cleaners

1:28 pm on 11 April 2023
Living wage cleaner generic

File image. Photo: 123RF

Cleaners are launching a bid to have higher pay and more training across the sector.

E Tū union will initiate the bargaining process on behalf of 1000 cleaners with the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment today.

The Fair Pay Agreements Act, which became law in October, establishes sector-wide bargaining so employers do not have to strip pay and conditions in order to win contracts to provide services.

E Tū said cleaners were the second profession, after security guards, to initiate such bargaining.

Assistant national secretary Annie Newman said there was high staff turnover in cleaning work because of low pay and changeable shifts.

A fair pay agreement will provide greater stability, Newman said.

Speaking to Morning Report, Newman said cleaners wanted higher wages, more stable hours, safe and healthy work places and more training to stay in the industry long-term.

Most cleaners were wanting to be paid the living wage, which will rise to $26 in September, as many were currently sitting on or around minimum wage.

Further training was also needed as cleaners dealt with chemicals day-to-day and they were "complex and require attention", Newman said.

"Often they are the only ones around. It's important they are trained to deal with those chemicals, to understand those chemicals and to keep themselves as safe as possible.

"They also deal with a lot of electrical equipment and that's another area where there are often problems because of electrical wiring and so on that causes a hazard for workers."

Newman said there were about 35,000 cleaners across the country and said this move would provide a standard for all.

Once the agreement process was underway, the union would be going out to cleaners across the country to see what they would like put "on the table".

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