House debates

Monday, 15 June 2020

Statements by Members

International Cleaners Day

1:33 pm

Photo of Brian MitchellBrian Mitchell (Lyons, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Too often cleaners are the forgotten people, but not today as it's International Cleaners Day. Cleaners perform a critical function in our communities, our homes, our workplaces and our schools. They arrive early and they leave before most of us start work, or many will start after we've all left for the day. My mum worked for years as a school and hospital cleaner. Every weekend my brother and I would be awakened, still in our pyjamas, from the bunkbed and taken to our cousins' before dawn where we would spend the weekend with our uncle while my mum and our aunt worked on the wards at the hospital. The work was hard and it was relentless.

We've all come to appreciate the work of cleaners this year as they work extra hard to keep us safe from COVID-19. My state, Tasmania, has no active cases, thanks in large part to the work of cleaners in scrubbing down the wards and the aged-care centres. Cleaners are overworked and underpaid. They are always at risk of outsourcing and weak job security. Too many have to put up with abuse and, frankly, too much racism. It is a tough gig. Eighty-seven per cent of cleaners say they are not paid what they are worth and 77 per cent are worried that they will lose their job.

I'm proud to support the United Workers Union cleaners' solution campaign, which is pushing for better conditions and security for our cleaners. I thank the cleaners of Australia, including the cleaners of the Parliament House. Happy International Cleaners Day.