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Cleaners and community get together around NZ

Cleaners and community get together around New Zealand

Cleaners and their community supporters gathered together in Auckland and Wellington today to send a message to New Zealand’s largest contract cleaning firm, Spotless, which refuses to listen to those calling for a clean start in the cleaning industry.

Cleaners who mop, vacuum, empty bins and clean toilets in our cities while most of us are sleeping, say Spotless does not give them enough time to do their jobs properly, or pay them enough money to look after their families.

Cleaners march to National Bank buildings
Cleaners in both cities marched to the National Bank buildings where Spotless holds the cleaning contracts. Tenants were shocked to hear about the low wages cleaners were paid.

Many asked if it was true that Spotless paid cleaners only $10.95 an hour and said Spotless should improve conditions and wages for cleaners.

Cleaner’s nine year old son says ‘support my mum.’
In Auckland, nine year-old George Lotovale, son of Spotless cleaner and SFWU cleaners union delegate Sue Lafaele spoke about what his mum’s job meant for the family.

“I love my mum. She’s a cleaner and she works hard. I wish mum had more time with me and I wish she wasn’t tired. Support my mum. Pay her more - she deserves it.”

Community Support for a Clean Start
Reverend Mua Strickson Pua of the Newton Pacific Islanders’ Presbyterian Church called for justice for cleaners.

“The community will not stop; we will continue to get together like this until our cleaners and their families have decent jobs.”

Strickson Pua called on Spotless to play its part to change the industry for the better so that the predominantly female Pacific Island workforce had access to the same opportunities as everyone else in New Zealand.

Strickson Pua announced that cleaners will mark International Anti-Poverty Day on October 17th with rallies and protests all over New Zealand and Australia and called on community leaders and organisations to support their actions.

“Everyone knows about the poor conditions for Pacific Island workers in New Zealand. We are living in poverty and it’s got to stop. Cleaners represent the predicament of a workforce that can’t afford to live despite working hard and despite sometimes having three jobs. It’s disgraceful that cleaners should have to rely on subsidies to survive. They deserve our support.”

Wellington cleaners expose dirty deal
In Wellington cleaners mailed sponges with the Clean Start message to Government MPs whose offices are cleaned by Spotless cleaners.

Cleaners called on MPs to consider the low wages and poor conditions for cleaners in Government owned buildings, pointing out that they often did not have enough time to do their work because of unrealistic workloads, and suggested one way MPs could help the cleaners out was by cleaning their own offices with the enclosed sponges.

SFWU cleaners union member Hiwa Ngaronga also called on the Government to support the Clean Start principles.

“We deserve respect and we want our government to show they support the cleaners in their buildings by adopting the Clean Start principles.”

One MP’s response
Maori Party MP and Clean Start supporter Hone Harawira addressed cleaners and their supporters outside Parliament. Harawira commended cleaners campaigning for a Clean Start and said it was unacceptable that cleaners were “holding down several jobs at shamefully low pay, in order to make ends meet.”

Today’s international actions were part of the Clean Start: Fair Deal for Cleaners campaign. The campaign calls on all those in the cleaning industry to make improvements to cleaner’s jobs and lives.


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