When a cleaning contractor at Cadbury Hobart sacked half its cleaning workforce, the contractor hired new cleaners and exploited them. The cleaning company took advantage of the fact that these cleaners were all new to Australia.
They were young Sri Lankan people, unaware of their rights at work, and because they desperately needed to keep their jobs, did not want to raise any concerns or issues with their employer. United Voice members called on the new cleaners to stand with them: "Join us. Together we are stronger".
The Sri Lankan cleaners had been coerced onto ABNs by the cleaning company, sham-contracted at $17.50 an hour, which was almost $8/hr LESS than the casual award rate. Being on an ABN, meant that they didn't accrue any leave, had to pay their own tax and insurances, and that they couldn't afford workers' compensation.
United Voice members said, "No - we will not accept this. We won’t let them take advantage. This is exploitation. This is discrimination. We will demand respect, we expect equality. We will not be divided. There will not be an 'us and them' in our workplace."
All United Voice members at the worksite - cleaners, caterers, security officers - endorsed an organising plan to win. And it didn’t take long. Prompted by union members, Cadbury management took swift action, directing the Cleaning Contractor to fix it. Within 24 hours, the cleaning company issued an acknowledgment of their wrongdoing and launched a full-scale investigation into their operations, with their audit revealing that they had lost control of their franchisees.
Yesterday, bosses from the Cleaning Company flew into Hobart offering full employment to the Sri Lankan cleaners on the Award, with all the protections and entitlements offered to other members at the site. The cleaning company committed to every point made in the United Voice letter of demand and also to an ongoing audit of all operations, in order to quash sham contracting in their business.
Like all cleaners, the Sri Lankan workers deserve respect, decent jobs, and a living wage. United Voice will never be silent on sham contracting. This sort of exploitation destroys workplaces and communities. Members will work together to stamp it out wherever they see it. It was great to see Cadbury management stepping up and doing the right thing by working with union members to stamp out sham contracting at the site.