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Starting today, the University of Tasmania (UTAS) will slash cleaning hours by 40%, courtesy of the questionable ethics of Rufus Black, the Vice-Chancellor, and the mismanagement of finances by his predecessor, Peter Rathjen.

This is a significant blow to the livelihoods of cleaners who have been working hard to keep students and staff safe throughout this pandemic.

In response, UTAS students have launched a petition calling out the Vice-Chancellor’s lack of respect for cleaners and the potential risks posed by these cuts.

The UTAS Sandy Bay campus was informed of the decision last week and the UTAS northern campuses, Newnham and Inveresk, are expected to receive the same news as their southern colleagues today.

“We have bent over backwards for UTAS, keeping the uni safe,” says cleaner Anna Reay, who has worked at UTAS Newnham and Inveresk campuses for four years.

“It’s devastating that they are doing this to us and putting students at risk. Cleaners shouldn’t have to pay for their bad financial decisions.”

“This is the result of financial mistakes made by university management and Peter Rathjen, who went on a property shopping spree that hasn’t paid off,” says United Workers Union spokesperson, Sarah Ellis.

“Now the Vice-Chancellor is trying to patch up his budget with the low wages of essential workers, rather than looking for a more ethical alternative.

“This isn’t the first time Rufus Black’s ethics and morals have been called into question. He has been conspicuously absent on previous occasions when cleaners’ livelihoods were on the chopping board.

“How exactly this ‘million-dollar-a-year’ Vice-Chancellor can justify his mere 2% pay cut, whilst telling cleaners to cop 40%, is beyond me. That ethics degree must be from an old cereal box.

“The financial mistakes of Peter Rathjen should not be worn by cleaners. These cuts need to be reversed immediately, so cleaners can do their important, essential work.”