School cleaners in New South Wales have today announced Premier Gladys Berejiklian as the winner of the 2021 Golden Toilet Brush Award.
The award is a dishonour bestowed by Australian cleaners each year on International Cleaners’ Day to the individual or organisation that has done the most to undermine cleaners and the essential work they do.
Cleaners have been the backbone of the country’s response to the COVID-19 crisis but in the middle of the pandemic, Premier Berejiklian has slated cuts to cleaning hours at 480 public schools. Today cleaners are calling on Premier Berejiklian and the New South Wales Government to come clean on their plans and rule out any cuts to cleaning hours.
School cleaners already struggle with huge workloads and limited time. An interim report by the United Workers Union has found two-thirds of surveyed New South Wales cleaners (66%) did not have enough time to clean all the areas they are responsible for. Over a fifth (23%) have worked for over 20 years cleaning schools but are not getting paid for all the hours they work.
With further cuts to cleaning hours, cleaners fear they will not be able to meet the health and safety standards needed to keep children safe. This is of particular concern when school cleaners are essential to minimising the ongoing risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in our schools.
Quotes attributable to Lyndal Ryan, United Workers Union Director of Property Services:
“You would think that now, more than ever, everyone would be giving thanks to cleaners and showing their gratitude in meaningful and tangible ways – such as secure jobs. Disappointingly, this year there are many contenders for the Golden Toilet Brush Award.
“Premier Berejiklian came out on top for shocking and disappointing cleaners, parents, teachers and the broader community by attempting to sneak through cuts to school cleaning at the worst possible time. The NSW Government is still refusing to come clean on which schools will be impacted and which cleaners stand to have their hours and pay slashed.
“This is a shocking decision and one that needs to be reversed immediately to protect school communities. School cleaners have faced years of cuts to their hours and working conditions and they are now being asked to do the impossible. Enough is enough.
“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.
“Today cleaners are coming together across the country to put governments and cleaning companies on notice. They will not tolerate poor wages, substandard working conditions, underpayments, dodgy equipment and impossible workloads.”
Cleaner Judith Barber and United Workers Union Director of Property Services Lyndal Ryan are available for comment.
Award ceremony details
WHEN: 12 pm Tuesday 15 June 2021
WHERE: Parliament of New South Wales, 6 Macquarie St, Sydney
WHAT: Cleaners present the eight-foot Golden Toilet Brush of Shame on International Cleaners’ Day to Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
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