Hospital cleaner outrage over 64c pay increase

Specialist cleaning staff at Canberra Hospital have vowed to keep fighting for a wage increase.
Hospital cleaners protest outside Canberra hospital

Canberra hospital cleaners have vowed to keep fighting for a wage increase after being offered 64 cents more per hour on a pay rate that hasn’t increased since 2012.

Under the contract, held by facility services provider ISS, the specialist cleaners are paid a base rate of $21.19.

United Voice spokesperson Erryn Creshull told INCLEAN cleaners have been trying to bargain for a wage increase for several years.

“This year was the first time United Voice managed to enter negotiations with ISS for a better pay rate,” Creshull said.

“As a result of those negotiations, the cleaners were offered a pay increase that equated to only 64 cents per hour, which they said is an absolute insult.”

On Thursday, 9 November, between 60 to 70 cleaners protested for a wage increase outside the hospital.

“It was pretty impressive,” said Creshull. “It was the first time many cleaners had ever protested, so to see lots of people who aren’t used to taking this sort of action was amazing.”

Creshull added that the specialist cleaners, whose responsibilities include cleaning operating theatres and completing infection cleans, have been told by the ACT Health Department that they are part of the hospital’s health unit. 

“Yet, everyone in this unit receives an annual pay increase except the specialist cleaners.

“Five years is a long time to go with no pay increase, especially as the cost of living continues to go up.”

A spokesperson from ACT Health told INCLEAN since the ACT Health contract for cleaning services commenced earlier this year and to date, ISS cleaners have received two pay increases – one upon the commencement of the new contract and another at the start of the new financial year.

“ACT Health acknowledge that cleaners wish to see further pay increases and respect their right to continue to advocate to their employer ISS,” said the spokesperson.

“Anyone who has been a patient at the Canberra Hospital or visited the campus would recognise the important contribution cleaners make each and every day, across all hospital wards, operating theatres, patient waiting areas, patient treatment rooms and other general areas.”

ISS Facility Services responds 

ISS Facility Services told INCLEAN the contractor has been negotiating an enterprise agreement with employees and have agreed on all matters except the wages.

“We continue to work closely together with the union [United Voice] and our employees to resolve this matter,” said an ISS Facility Services spokesperson.

“ISS pays our full-time employees significantly above the relevant award rate (11.7 per cent above) and has done since commencing services at the Canberra Hospital in 2009.

“Since the commencement of our new contract in early 2017, ISS has passed on two wage increases as provided under our contract. There was also a bonus paid of up to $3,800 on earnings from July 2015 to June 2016 at start of contract.”

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