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The United Workers Union, The Parenthood and the NSW Teachers Federation have called on Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant to intervene in cuts to school cleaning across the state.

With new, highly contagious variants of COVID-19 circulating, including recent cases amongst children, key school stakeholders wrote to Dr Chant today to raise concerns about the state of school cleaning and the potential impact it may have on school communities and the state’s ability to control outbreaks of COVID-19.

New South Wales school cleaners have raised issues including not having enough time to clean the areas required of them, inadequate PPE, poor training, and problems with faulty equipment. On top of this, the NSW Government is pushing ahead with cuts to cleaning hours in up to 480 public schools.

Quotes attributable to Judith Barber, NSW school cleaner:

“Cutting the cleaning hours of essential workers like me, means cutting the hygiene and quality required. It affects our teachers, students, and the whole school community, while also putting cleaners at a greater risk of injury with increased workloads and less time.”

Quotes attributable to Lyndal Ryan, United Workers Union Director of Property Services:

“With new, highly contagious variants of COVID-19 circulating, including recent cases amongst children, the situation is deeply concerning. But Premier Berejiklian is attempting to sneak through cuts to school cleaning at the worst possible time.

“A shocking decision in which we seek the NSW Chief Health Officer’s support in reversing. Now more than ever, the Premier needs to respect the essential work cleaners do and ensure every school cleaner has the time, equipment and support they need to keep every school community healthy and safe.”

Quotes attributable to Georgie Dent, The Parenthood Executive Director:

“NSW is in the midst of an outbreak of a highly contagious strand of the virus. We need to do everything we can to reduce the risk of spread, and keep teachers, students and school staff safe. Cleaners are struggling to keep children and teaching staff safe.

“The Parenthood and the 72,000 parents and carers we represent, believes it is unacceptable to ignore that concern and place cleaners, children and teaching staff at risk by reducing cleaning hours and failing to provide the resources they need. This important health and safety issue needs to be dealt with as soon as possible.”

Further information

A recent survey of New South Wales school cleaners by United Workers Union found:

• 66% of respondents reported not being given enough time to clean the areas required of them.
• 60% of respondents have had to work without adequate PPE.
• 60% of respondents have had issues with faulty equipment.
• 18% of respondents have not received adequate training.
• 10% of respondents have been required to use chemicals past their expiry date.


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