New Zealand’s E tū union has met with Spotless to work with the contracting company to ‘fix the pay issues dogging its cleaning and kitchen staff’.
E tū’s assistant national secretary John Ryall said that Spotless has acknowledged the problems with its new pay system and is working constructively with the union to fix them.
“I am pleased the constructive approach that Spotless has shown to overcoming the concerns the union has raised,” said Mr Ryall.
“Any underpayment for a minimum wage worker can mean the difference between providing food for their kids or starving. We need to get it right.”
Following months of problems and complaints over workers’ pay, the E tū union labelled Spotless’ new pay system, which was introduced late last year, as the ‘Novopay of the contract cleaning industry’, reported the New Zealand Herald on 23 May 2016.
‘E tū cleaning industry co-ordinator Jill Ovens said pay issues were systemic among cleaning contractors and Spotless was particularly bad’.
“We’re now into May and the problem seems to be escalating,” said Ms Ovens.
“We’ve been told hospital cleaners and kitchen workers aren’t going to get their pay rise and back-pay which goes back to last October, until the end of May, at the earliest.”
Many E tū union members had complained about underpayment; incorrect holiday pay; no pay at all and not receiving pay slips. The Herald reported that one cleaner had to ‘dip into his savings to feed his children after not receiving his full pay from Spotless’ and is now ‘more than $300 behind in payments to Housing New Zealand’.
Spotless acknowledged problems with its pay system and stated that the majority have been fixed.
“We take our responsibility to remunerate each individual employee accurately and on time very seriously,” the company stated.
“Spotless’ new payroll software has led to some short-term discrepancies in payment for some of our staff. We have proactively managed this transition, and are confident that the majority of issues have been resolved.”
But Ms Ovens said that Spotless’ software system for staff to clock on and off work was also ‘troubled’.
“It doesn’t seem to recognise Pacific Island voices or if someone has a cold, and when that happens, people can’t get into the payroll system to be paid,” she explained.
In response, Spotless said that errors are usually linked to training rather than system failures.
“We have corrective mechanisms in place to deal with any issues swiftly, through direct line management and Spotless payroll,” said the company.