The Guardian November 17, 1999


NSW cleaners strike back

The NSW Carr Government's attack on the State's education system is 
centred on teachers but also extends to school cleaners. Around 2,000 NSW 
cleaners, employed by contractor Menzies Property Services, began 
industrial action last week, demanding that the Carr Government put more 
funding into cleaning contracts.

The workers' stand comes from the fact that school cleaning hours cannot 
afford to be cut any more. The cleaners went on strike for 72 hours from 
last Friday.

Menzies has a five-year contract with the Government to clean government 
schools, technical colleges, court houses, police stations and other public 
buildings.

Lack of funding has resulted in huge pressures being placed on the workers, 
who have suffered a series of severe cuts to their working hours ever since 
the former Liberal Greiner Government privatised the Government Cleaning 
Service in 1993.

"The Carr Government cannot wash their hands of this dispute", said Liquor, 
Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers' Union Secretary, Annie Owens. "They 
control the cleaning contracts with the private contractors.

"The Government is out of touch if they think six minutes are enough to 
clean a classroom which holds 30 children. It's impossible to vacuum, wipe 
desks and bench tops and mop floors in that time."

Back to index page