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John Passant

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December 2015



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



It is not just Liberal governments who attack cleaners – Labor does too

Build a Better Future sent me an email recently about the situation in Canberra (‘the A.C.T.’) with school cleaners.

As you may know from reports on this blog and elsewhere, cleaners at Federal Parliament House have been fighting to have their old wage restored after Tony Abbott’s government cut it. They walked off the job in July and now have bans in place on cleaning up after Federal Parliamentarians’ Christmas parties.

The Labor/Greens government in the A.C.T. seems to have the same Liberal Party contempt for cleaners, this time school cleaners. Six months ago the union covering school cleaners here, United Voice, raised concerns with Joy Burch, the Labor Party Minister for Education in the A.C.T., about the underpayment of wages of over $500,000 for some cleaners and bullying when they spoke out.

The lack of action from the Labor/Greens government saw the union and others (including the CFMEU) stage a protest on Wednesday outside the offices of the Education and Training Department to highlight the plight of school cleaners here in Canberra and put pressure on the local Labor/Greens government to fix the matter quickly.

Union representatives have called on the ACT Government to step in to enforce safe working conditions for migrant cleaners. Photo: Katie Burgess

To give you an idea of the issues, here is the email from Building a Better Future asking for support.  Shame, Labor, shame.

Hi John —

Migrant workers with few English skills are being mistreated and underpaid while cleaning ACT schools. The worst bit is that the ACT Government has known about this for the past six months and has taken no action against the two cleaning companies involved.

After six months of hoping the ACT Labor Government will act, it’s clear only public pressure will move them. Will you send the Education Minister Joy Burch a message asking her to support the migrant school cleaners?

The cleaners, many of whom are migrants and refugees, have been bullied, harassed and intimidated after they went public to the Canberra Times about the underpayments and unsafe working conditions.

Despite the evidence that has been presented to the Education Directorate, and personally by the cleaners to Minister Burch, no action has been taken to hold the unethical cleaning companies accountable.

Please, send Minister Joy Burch an email asking her to instruct her Directorate to cancel the cleaning contract.

These cleaners deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. It is clear that a new, ethical cleaning company is needed to take over the contracts at the ACT schools. Under the ‘continuity of employment’ rules, the cleaners will keep their jobs under a new contractor.

Sadly, this isn’t an issue that the local schools, the local principal or the local school teachers can control. Cleaning contracts are established and terminated by the Education and Training Directorate. They have lots of evidence and the ability to cancel the contracts with these unethical cleaning companies.

We need your help. Support these workers and say enough is enough. Send a letter to the Minister for Education Joy Burch, urging her to do the right thing by the workers.

Unions have always stood up for exploited workers, no matter what country they are from. Migrant workers in Australia are especially vulnerable to unscrupulous companies taking advantage of them, and this awful behaviour is rife in the contract cleaning industry. It’s even worse that tax-payers are paying these unethical cleaning companies.

These cleaners have been exceptionally brave to come forward and reveal the underpayments, the unsafe working conditions and the bullying they have experienced.

Please, show your support for them, and call on the ACT Labor Government to take action.

In union

Alex White


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Pingback from It is not just Liberal governments who attack cleaners – Labor does too – WRITTEN BY JOHN PASSANT | winstonclose
Time December 11, 2015 at 1:15 pm

[…] Under Unions, Cleaners, United Voice, A.C.T Labor/Greens government, School cleaners, Build a better future, UnionsACT. Comments: none […]

Comment from Lorikeet
Time December 11, 2015 at 9:04 pm

The same things are being inflicted on aged care workers: reductions in the number of staff, poor wages and working conditions, working unpaid hours. This has been affecting personal care nurses, kitchen hands, cleaners, laundry workers for several years. This is happening in the corporate sector where a major investment bank owns just under 50% of the businesses, but its name is not on the doors.

Labor brought in foreign workers and trained them at the taxpayers’ expense, and then allowed them to be exploited by their corporate mates. Some have spent large sums of money in our universities, but are locked into low paid work because they are being denied Citizenship to ensure they remain slaves to the bank.

Aussie nurses have moved into the church sector where the wages and working conditions are generally better.

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