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Cleaners Win in Supreme Court

9 August 2012

Cleaners Win in Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has upheld the right of cleaners to negotiate for redundancy entitlements if their jobs are restructured as the result of a contract change.

The Supreme Court has ruled against the actions of the global cleaning company, OCS, in unilaterally cutting the working hours of 50 Massey University cleaners during a contract change in 2010.

Service and Food Workers Union Ngā Ringa Tota National Secretary John Ryall said that OCS won a contract to clean the Massey University campuses in Palmerston North and Wellington in 2010.

“As soon as OCS took over the contract they slashed the cleaners’ hours,” he said. “They gave the cleaners notice that their working hours would be reduced to 27 a week and their working year cut to 31 weeks.”

When the cleaners, through the Service and Food Workers Union, sought to negotiate “redundancy entitlements”, OCS sacked them and only reinstated them when they signed up to the new hours of work.

Since then the argument about the right of the cleaners to negotiate redundancy entitlements with the global cleaning giant has wound its way through the court system with the Employment Court supporting their claim and the Court of Appeal turning it down.

“The Supreme Court in its judgment has recognised that cleaners, who are all employed on or around the minimum wage of $13.50 an hour, have very little bargaining power and therefore their rights need to be protected, “said John Ryall.

“The Supreme Court victory is very important, not just for the Massey University cleaners, but for vulnerable workers throughout New Zealand.

“It was truly a David against Goliath struggle and this decision will impact on the rights of those workers employed by contractors for years to come.”


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