WHAT: NSW school cleaners will stage a noisy protest outside NSW Premier Dom Perrottet’s office about a lack of safety and impossible workloads in NSW public schools.
WHEN: 11am, Tuesday, March 21.
WHERE: Premier’s Ministerial Office – 52 Martin Place, Sydney (on Phillip St, near the corner of Martin Place).
WHO: School cleaners will be available for interview.
VISUALS: Chanting protesters to deliver more than 1000 postcards from school cleaners demanding a meeting with the NSW Premier. Passers by will be asked to complete the “17-second toilet cleaning challenge”.
The NSW Government has washed its hands of responsibility for the safety of cleaners in NSW public schools, despite cleaners’ injury rates ranking third in NSW from more than 500 careers.
United Workers Union described the NSW Government’s outsourcing of responsibility for the safety of cleaners in public schools as a “catastrophic failure”, after revelations cleaners are being asked to do more than 650 tasks a day under a NSW Government contract.
Last week (EDS: March 15) the NSW Education Department said it was the school cleaning contractors’ job “to manage their staff including identifying risks and controlling those risks to ensure their health, wellbeing, and safety”.
“The responsibility to keep workers safe has been completely, and disastrously, outsourced by the NSW Government,” United Workers Union Property Services Co-ordinator Linda Revill said today.
“This privatisation has left school cleaners with impossible workloads and one of the worst injury rates of any career in NSW.
“The NSW Premier, Dom Perrottet, simply washes his hands and pushes the problem on to contractors, while cleaners’ injury rates are among the highest in the state.”
Tables from the NSW Government’s iCare workers’ compensation scheme show NSW Government school cleaning has the third-highest workers’ compensation premium, exceeded only by concrete construction services and shearing.
The premium for public school cleaners is equal to sawmillers, exceeds the premiums applied to more than 500 other careers, and is double the premium for cleaning in non-government schools.
Workers’ compensation premiums are a proxy for the injury rate experienced in each career.
Last year Mr Perrottet refused to meet with NSW school cleaners despite being handed more than 700 postcards.
United Workers Union is calling on Mr Perrottet to abandon the privatisation of NSW public school cleaning.
The NSW Labor Opposition has agreed to review the privatisation if elected.
“The fact NSW school cleaners have seen their injury rates at such high levels, exceeding dangerous careers including cropdusting, rock lobster fishing and logging, is a profound indictment on this privatisation,” Ms Revill said.
“They are among the lowest paid workers in NSW yet they face some of the greatest risks in NSW – in schools where you would expect students, teachers and cleaners could be safe.
“The result for students, teachers and school communities is that their schools are not being cleaned properly, and stressed out school cleaners are being injured as they are pressured to do 650 tasks a day.
“We are aware of one worker who broke their ankle rushing from one job to the next, and the response from the contractor was to plead for them to come in and do their job in a moon boot.”
Milena, a cleaner with 23 years experience who works 10-hour days at a Sydney school, said: “The workload makes me feel sad and it makes me think, Is it worth it?”
“Cleaners are getting injured very, very often. They’re working hard, no break, they can’t have a break.
“If you have a break, your job is going to be behind. So we rush until the last minute, and still my job is not done and still I am not happy.”
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