United Workers Union (UWU) believes cleaners at Melbourne Airport may be owed as much as $30,000 on the basis UWU has found that more than two-thirds of workers appear to have been underpaid various entitlements.
Cleaning contractor IKON Services Australia employs about 120 cleaning workers at Melbourne Airport. These workers are covered by the Cleaning Services Award, which sets out legal minimum standards in relation to wages and conditions.
However, despite already paying its workers no more that the bare minimum allowed under the law, UWU is concerned IKON appears to still be ripping off its workers.
According to payslips sighted by UWU, the majority of IKON’s workers are missing out on a whole week of annual leave per year and have not been paid overtime for extra time spent at work. UWU has written to IKON alerting to them to these issues, but neither issue has so far been resolved.
Extremely low wages, coupled with IKON’s disrespectful treatment of staff, has resulted in ongoing short staffing at the Airport, which has meant toilets are left dirty and bins unemptied.
UWU coordinator Damien Davie said while he would continue an open dialogue with IKON, ultimately Melbourne Airport needed to take a stand and force the company to do the right thing.
“Melbourne Airport needs to take responsibility for all workers at their terminals, particularly those essential workers who do some of the most taxing and dirty jobs,” Mr Davie said.
“Melbourne Airport is boasting about its return to pre-pandemic traffic and revenues but that doesn’t mean much to the workers who are being paid sometimes below the minimums to keep the airport clean and secure.
“More than two-thirds of Melbourne Airport cleaners have been underpaid in what can only be described as an example of systemic underpayments, and if Melbourne Airport wants to maintain its ‘luxury’ status it needs to invest in the essential workers who keep the terminals clean and secure.”
UWU believes one IKON cleaner, Harbans (Harry) Bangar is owed around $25,000 since July 2016, according to its calculations, and another two of Harry’s colleagues are owed more than $31,000 with most being underpaid between $5,000 and $20,000 over the same time period.
Father-of-two and UWU member, Harry, who has worked as a cleaner since 2015 said the siuation had gotten progressively worse over time.
“Things are getting worse and worse, day-by-day. IKON tell us they can’t cover people who have taken annual leave or personal leave, saying they won’t fill the positions,” he said.
“Since I started we’ve always been stuck on the legal mínimum, occasionaly wages go up by a few cents, but it is never enough to keep up with the cost of living.
“Because of these wages I can’t afford the extra activities like swimming or sport for my children.”