House debates

Monday, 24 June 2013

Private Members' Business

International Cleaners Day

8:52 pm

Photo of Dennis JensenDennis Jensen (Tangney, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

Today we rightly recognise the hard work that cleaners in Australia do daily. Cleaners are the silent workers coming into your homes and offices when you are at work and coming into your workplace once you have returned home. You may never have even met the cleaner who may enter your work and home on a regular basis and keeps hotel rooms, sports stadiums, shopping centres and schools to the standard that we so often take for granted.

Cleaning is a tough job—hard work day-in, day-out—and there is little recognition for this. That hard work is sometimes unnoticed but is an integral part of our daily lives. We see cleaners here at Parliament House, who no doubt have been working for hours before we arrive and will be working hours after we leave, keeping government buildings to the impeccable standard that is expected by our society.

We all know a cleaner or come across a cleaner on a daily basis, and it is not uncommon that, despite the hard work that they have been enduring that day, you will still be met with a smile and a simple hello to form part of your day. Cleaning is an occupation that many mothers returning to the workplace commence after having children. It is the occupation that many single parents, new immigrants and parents wanting extra money at the end of the week may enter into as it is outside school hours. While some may view that anyone can be a cleaner, it requires a certain type of personality to persevere during dirty and tough days and long hours for minimal pay.

Clean Start was founded as it was clear that cleaning contractors were cutting corners in an effort to win cleaning contracts. This resulted in cleaners working longer hours, suffering from excessive and dangerous workloads and struggling to survive on poverty wages. This also had a knock-on effect on building owners as it posed public hygiene and occupational health and safety reputational risks that threatened to undermine their relationships with tenants. The solution to this was working together and establishing a Clean Start agreement.

Clean Start ensures the provision of quality cleaning services while ensuring quality lives. Because of Clean Start, families with it are now being given a better life than most other cleaners who still struggle with day-to-day expenses. There is a need to make sure that there continues to be a balance between people being able to pay for their daily living expenses and not living in poverty whilst having clean and safe offices and buildings. Clean Start is about respectful cleaners and fairer rights and these are the foundations that all workers in Australia deserve and that we should all endeavour to work towards.

People in our community should not work long, hard hours and still not be able to pay basic rent and living expenses. People who want to work hard should still be able to pay the bills at the end of the week. The Clean Start campaign has made a difference to people's lives. Cleaning companies have an obligation to not only provide a job but to ensure that the work is a decent job, that it provides a living wage and gives people some control over their working conditions.

The campaign of Clean Start requires the support of the community. It is a voice for cleaners who sometimes go unnoticed. It is to enable the voices of cleaners to be heard so that they do not fall into poverty. The campaign is centred around pay and that cleaners deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Almost every cleaner is a mother, sister, father, brother. They want what we all want and hurt in the same way. I want the good bloke that cleans our electorate office to know that he is appreciated and valued. You find mugs that have grown legs of their own. You bring a calm organisation to the chaos. In the final analysis, with the movement of this motion today, dignity and respect is being shown to all the hardworking cleaners of Australia.

Debate adjourned.


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