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WHEN: TODAY Thursday 10 September at 3:30 pm AEST

WHERE: Live stream at

WHAT: Cleaners and union members across Australia participate in a virtual picket line calling on the University of Tasmania to reverse their cuts to cleaning hours.

WHO: Impacted cleaners Anna Reay, Sudha Giri Puri and Maree Cummings, and United Workers Union spokesperson Sarah Ellis.

Cleaners from the University of Tasmania (UTAS) will rally online today, demanding Vice-Chancellor Rufus Black reverse the dangerous 296-hour cut to cleaning time on campuses. 

This cut to cleaning time is not only a significant slashing of livelihoods, but also threatens Tasmania’s COVID-free status. 

When cleaners spoke up about their concern for the health and safety of students and staff, UTAS falsely claimed that the union members were lying. 

“We want UTAS to tell the truth,” says cleaner Anna Reay, whose hours have been reduced by 40 per cent at the Newnham campus. “It’s a kick in the guts to say we’re lying – we are essential workers.” 

United Workers Union spokesperson Sarah Ellis says, “UTAS is claiming an additional million dollars has been spent on cleaning in 2020, but this is just creative accounting.

“UTAS has failed to mention, for instance, that this number covers things such as the purchase of hand sanitiser.”

Union members will also be calling for the reinstatement of at least six cleaners, who were stood down when the pandemic first hit.  

“I feel like I’ve been lied to,” says cleaner Maree Cummings, who was stood down due to COVID-19. “I don’t know if I have a job to go back to. I’ve been left in the dark.”