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WHO: Julie and Sofia, long-serving school cleaners, speak out against school cleaning privatisation.

WHAT: Victorian Labor State Conference to vote on a motion from Julie and Sofia to end school cleaning privatisation.

WHERE: Victorian Labor State Conference, Moonee Valley Racecourse – press conference in the Members Lounge, Level 2.

WHEN: Press conference at 10am or 10.15am (depending on state conference schedule), Saturday May 18.

Two long-serving school cleaners are demanding an end to a privatised school cleaning system that has seen cleaners’ hours cut and in some cases wages more than halved at Victorian Labor’s State Conference on the weekend.

They say the continuing privatisation hurts, cleaners, schools, and the broader community by reducing the quality of cleaning available to schools.

Julie and Sofia have put forward a motion to be voted on at conference condemning the Victorian Labor Government’s decision late last year to maintain privatised cleaning contracts across Victorian Government schools impacting more than 3000 cleaners.

The cleaners’ motion states that it’s “reprehensible that this Victorian Labor Government has stood by and allowed the companies that they pay to clean our schools (to) cut the hours and pay of workers”.

Cleaners are calling on delegates at State Labor Conference to support a motion that:

  • Condemns the cuts to hours and wages occurring under the current Victorian Government.
  • Demands the Victorian Labor Government restore hours and wages to about 700 affected cleaners who saw hours slashed by two firms, Serco and Tradeflex, on a contract changeover from outgoing contractor ISS.
  • Calls on the Victorian Labor Government to end the privatisation of school cleaning from term 1 next year.
  • Calls on state conference to reaffirm Labor’s commitment to oppose outsourcing and privatisation.

The motion states:

“Under (Education Minister Ben) Carroll, hundreds of school cleaners, some of Victoria’s lowest paid and most vulnerable workers, went into Christmas 2023 with no public holiday pay (and) having their hours cut, pay slashed and conditions lost for 2024, with some workers losing up to 60% of their income.

“One example is a Union Member having their wage cut from $49,000 in 2023 to $19,000 for this year.”

Julie, one of the cleaners, says: “They could get rid of me tomorrow and I have no leg to stand on. I do not feel safe and secure within my job at the moment. I’m not getting enough hours; I’m not getting enough pay.”

United Workers Union Property Services Director Lyndal Ryan said she expected the cleaners’ motion to be supported.

“State Conference has been very clear that privatisation of essential Government services goes against Labor values, and the Victorian Labor Government should act on this,” Ms Ryan said.

“It’s not good enough for a Victorian Labor Government to continue to support the worst excesses of a Kennett-era privatisation.”


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