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United Workers Union, the union for school cleaners, gardeners and home economic assistants have today been notified of historic underpayments of 27,000 by the Education Department stemming back to 1983.

United Workers Union State Secretary Carolyn Smith said the underpayments are a serious issue that must be rectified.

“These are some of the lowest paid workers, who work in environments that are often dangerous and physically demanding,” she said.

“The work they do is important and is often unseen and they truly deserve every cent for the jobs they do in providing quality services to West Australian schools.”

Ms Smith said members welcome the Government’s commitment to repaying workers past the 6 year legal threshold.

“Members welcome the State Government’s swift response to the findings of the underpayments and support the full pay back of all workers affected – past and present.

“The majority of people affected are no longer employed by the Department however they still deserve to be paid for their hard work in our schools.”

Ms Smith said the State Government’s commitment to fully repaying all workers affected is in stark opposition to how most employers react.

“Workers usually have to fight for their entitlements and we see this all too often with underpayments, so members certainly welcome the State Government doing the right thing and not dragging out the issue.”

Ms Smith said the Union looks forward to working with Education Minister Sue Ellery and the Education Department to ensure all workers receive their correct back pay as soon as possible.

“The Education Department must ensure this never happens again and we encourage all organisations and businesses to check their pay roll because underpaying your workers is never acceptable.”