Passengers flying out of Melbourne Airport this month are urged to collect free hygiene packs distributed by United Voice as cleaners prepare to strike against wage cuts.
Voting on potential industrial action is currently taking place and passengers could be confronted by an unhygienic terminal upon their return to Melbourne. The vote comes after contractor Spotless told more than 100 cleaners they would not reinstate a $1600 airport allowance for their cleaners.
To address the possible discomfort of customers — with anticipated untidy food courts, dirty toilets and un-emptied garbage bins — United Voice will hand out free packs containing toilet paper, gloves, anti-bacterial hand wash, a Chux cloth, a wipe and a toilet-seat cover.
“People flying back home are likely to see a dirty airport, thanks to Spotless’s refusal to back fair pay for its cleaners,” stated Jess Walsh, Victorian Secretary of United Voice. “But we don’t want anyone to be caught short or inconvenienced, so we’re offering passengers hygiene packs to help them make a clean getaway.”
Voting ends this week and industrial action could begin shortly afterwards at Melbourne Airport’s domestic terminal, which is used by more than 5,000 passengers each day.
“Cleaners, who work so hard to keep Melbourne Airport clean for the travelling public, earn just $16.57 an hour. And, as the cost of living soars, they are struggling to pay their bills and support their families,” explained Walsh.
Cleaners at the domestic terminal are employed by Spotless, which is refusing to reinstate an airport allowance worth $1600 a year. Spotless stopped paying the allowance during the award-modernisation process last year.
Cleaners rely on the allowance to help cover transport costs, and are forced to pay for petrol and maintain a car because there is no reasonably priced public transport.
“Working at Melbourne Airport can cost a small fortune and until last year all cleaners were paid an allowance to cover these extra costs, and they just want it back,” Walsh said.
In July, airport cleaners working in the international terminal for ISS Cleaning won a new union agreement that provides annual pay increases of four per cent. It also restores the airport allowance.
“Other cleaners working at the airport get that allowance, so Spotless’s cleaners are being paid $1600 less for doing the very same work.”
“Cleaners have told Spotless that they will not accept worse pay and conditions than other cleaners, and they are united and determined to win fair wages,” Walsh concluded.
Proposed actions include partial stop-work actions to a full indefinite strike, as well as bans on cleaning and related duties like replacing toilet rolls and emptying bins.