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United Workers Union members at Canberra Centre are calling for an immediate meeting with the chief executive of Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC), ahead of significant cuts to their livelihoods tomorrow.

Cleaners and security guards, who have kept the Canberra Centre safe and clean, putting their health at risk during prolonged COVID-19 outbreaks are facing drastic cuts to their hours with the arrival of contractor Assetlink.

The Canberra Centre is one of many malls in the portfolio of Queensland Investment Corporation, which manages around $90 billion in funds, and property and infrastructure assets abroad.

Canberra Centre security guard Deng Duoot Ayual said he relied on regular hours to keep his family fed.

“I’ve worked at the Canberra Centre for six years. Under this new contractor I’ve been made a casual and it’s hard – I’m not sure what my hours will be after lockdown. My wife works just four hours a day and we have nine children who rely on my income,” Ayual said.

“QIC needs to respect us and speak to us.”

Ronald Belo, a cleaner at Canberra Centre said the Assetlink changed his shifts without notice.

“They turned my evening shift into a night shift, so instead of us cleaners working from 6:00pm to 2:00am, they want us working 10:00pm to 6:00am,” Belo said.

“This is a big struggle for my family. I am meant to get the kids ready and take them to school before going to my other day job. How do I do that without sleep?

“I’ve worked here for 10 years, and QIC management and HR have just been ignoring us.”

United Workers Union property services director Lyndal Ryan said the union was calling on the QIC chief executive to step up to the plate.

“The best thing to do given the current messy situation and in the middle of the current lock down is to instruct the contractor to continue to allow the existing workers to commence employment with the incoming contractor on their current hours of work and classifications. If he is unwilling to do that, he should at least be willing to work with them to explain how it is that workers who currently work full-time will have their hours cuts and part-time workers who cannot work additional hours are being forced to do so,” Ryan said.

“Canberra Centre management promised cleaners and security guards that their jobs were safe when the contract went out for tender. We knew, as did our members that there might be some changes but we had no idea that so many people would be offered jobs on hours that they simply cannot work.

“QIC is by no means the worst property owner in the country. Perhaps if the CEO is sufficiently briefed on what is happening on-the-ground in Canberra, he will have a change of heart. That’s why the cleaners and security officers want to speak with him.

“These are the workers who have ensured COVID safe compliance, the ones who keep the centre clean, and must front up when many of us can work comfortably from home. And the reward for that sacrifice is to be disposed of in the pursuit of greater company profits.

“Canberrans have the highest vaccination rates in the country and everyone including our Chief Minister is hoping that in the lead up to Christmas the lockdowns will ease and those workers who have been able to work from home will be able to spend money in hospitality and retail.

“Many Canberrans hope to be able to visit the Canberra Centre to shop, eat or see a movie. It would be great to think that the existing workers will be there to keep us safe. Even better if they have some money in their pockets for Xmas too.”



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