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Is $21.10 per hour enough for cleaners?

Popularity 3Viewed 636 times 2015-8-19 13:26 |System category:News| cleaners

Australian politicians will have dirty toilets this week because the cleaners at our Parliament House have gone on strike. The Parliament House cleaners are being paid $21.10 per hour and they are striking because they believe that they are worth $22.90 per hour. Australia has the developed worlds highest minimum wage at $17.29 per hour and our unskilled and low-skilled workers are the best paid in the world. We also have generous part-time and casual rates as well as good penalty rates for being called in to work on a Saturday, Sunday or public holidays. Like most Aussies I want our lowest paid workers to get a fair go - but is an Australian cleaner really worth $22.90 per hour?

I am somewhat of an invalid and I have worked as a cleaner myself. (: I was working at a pre-school and the nice old lady that was our cleaner retired so I decided to take the job. It was only one hour of cleaning five days a week and it was a good job because our pre-schoolers used to go home at 3:30 in the afternoon and I was paid until five so I used to do a really good job of cleaning for the cleaner anyway before she retired. I was able to do the cleaning within my regular day and my workplace was fine with paying me the cleaning money on top of my pay even though I kept going home at 5:00 like I used to before I took the cleaning job. The only thing that I wouldnt do for the nice old lady was mop the floor and only because I wanted to leave her something to do. We put the kids on the bus at 3:30 and it really doesnt take an hour and a half to plan the next day so I would often go home early anyway even after I had had time to do the bulk of the cleaning for our cleaner. So the cleaning job was pretty good. I cant remember exactly what I was being paid per hour but it would have been well over $20.00 per hour because it was casual and only one hour per day.

So I have worked as a cleaner and I do feel for my fellow-invalids. (Gattaca humour) Of course we all want unskilled and low-skilled workers to be paid fairly but when is enough enough? It seems that the philosophy of unionism is that enough is never enough. For people that are not from Australia it may seem that our unskilled and low-skilled workers are paid too much but the truth is that Australia has the highest cost of living so we need to pay a decent minimum wage. An Aussie that is working for min wage will take home a weekly pay of $656.90 which is roughly US$500.00.

A high percentage of min wage jobs are part-time or casual but of course these workers are paid at a higher rate so most Aussie McDonalds workers for example are being paid over $20.00 per hour to be there. The cost of living is much higher here in Australia than America but I cant see how an American can live on a $7.00 per hour min wage so I was glad to see that they have raised it to $15.00 per hour for large companies like McDonalds that employ a lot of people but there are still min wage workers in USA that are only being paid the $7.00 per hour as well as US workers that dont even get min wage and must rely on tips. America always goes on about how it is the best country in the world but to me it seems like an absolute hell hole for people that are not wealthy or comfortable.

The big thing that capitalists have been trying to introduce in Australia to destroy unions and collective bargaining once and for all is the so-called 'enterprise contract'. John Howard tried to sell this idea to the Australian public back in 2005 with his 'WorkChoices' IR reform that basically encouraged workers to be scabs and to try to undercut each other for jobs. The idea that individuals would negotiate pay and conditions with workers individually and the most 'enterprising' or desperate worker that will work for the least will get the job. What does an unskilled worker have to offer an employer other than the fact tat they would be willing to work for lower pay than what is expected? Conservatives will claim that this empowers low paid workers but the intention is to take any power that the low paid worker had away from them. The stupidest thing about this capitalist idea is that western citizens will not apply for jobs that pay an unfair rate of pay. Even in the USA the majority of the workers on min wage or tips are actually illegal Mexicans or new and desperate immigrants that take these low paid jobs. The USA cant even get Americans to pick asparagus for $17.00 per hour even with illegal Mexican labour according to US media. Apparently asparagus is having to be left unpicked because there are not enough workers to pick it for $17 per hour. So these so-called 'enterprise contracts' will only make things worse for low paid workers and that is why capitalists want them.

Here in Australia and in America the governments are now forcing unemployed people to do free work in exchange for welfare. This is a human rights violation and essentially slavery. What the American and Australian governments are doing to the unemployed now is basically exactly the same to the way the Nazi treated the so-called 'work shy' with the only difference being that unemployed Americans and Australians are not being put into camps. These governments are forcing citizens to work for no pay and even if they claim that the unemployment benefit is the pay this does not come even close to min wage. What these governments are doing is modern day slavery. Instead of calling unemployed people 'work shy' our PM Tony Abbott says that unemployed are not "good Australians" and that they are not "having a go". The idea is to demonize and dehumanize the unemployed person so the employed will not care that these people are being forced into modern slavery.

Western capitalists seem to think that if they destroy the economies of the developed nations then they will make western citizens desperate enough to take a job as an Uber driver for less than min wage. They also think that more poor females will become prostitutes or sugarbabies and perhaps there is some truth to that - but - the fact is that we have already seen what happens in the west when workers are under unchecked capitalism and that is war and rebellion. Workers in Australia do care about each other and that is why Aussie society is so angry right now. It is very obvious that Tony Abbott and whoever he is working for hates poor Australians and is doing all that he can to attack them. If western elites are giving Tony Abbott direction it isnt fooling anyone. I do not believe that the problem is with Tony Abbott but with the things that western capitalists want him to do. Australians do not give a damn about this so-called 'Independent Umpire'. The new idea for Australian Government is to not own any policy but to say that it has come from some unelected 'Independent Umpire' called the 'productivity commission'. Apparently western capitalists think that Australians are total idiots. They think that they can release a report that claims that Australia will be bankrupt for the next 60 years and this will mean that Tony Abbott has no choice but to attack the workers of Australia so that we can repair our budget. But no Australian elected a 'productivity commission' and none of us asked for it. It is ridiculous nonsense that isnt fooling anyone and if it does anything it highlights the fact that the Liberal and Labor party are a duopoly that work together against the Australian people. These western 'capitalists' 'are not capitalists at all - they are fascists and it is right in front of everyones faces. All of the ridiculous lies and trickery that comes from these western capitalists is just wasted energy unless they are actually trying to turn populations against them. It would be easier to call martial law and force the western poor to take jobs as Uber drivers and prostitutes at gunpoint.

The fact is that cleaners have higher political intelligence than our Prime Minister Tony Abbott and most Australians politicians. A good example of this is this cleaner union that is pushing for the pay rise for the cleaners of Parliament House. Maybe if people like Tony Abbott had the political IQ and skills that the Lyndal Ryan of United Voice has the capitalists might have more luck in selling their attacks on low paid workers. 


"Toilets and bathrooms get pretty dirty over the course of the week,"

"Wouldn't it be nice to think that they didn't have to [strike] at all?

"It would be very nice if this industrial action could end before anyone has to put up with smelly bathrooms, smelly toilets."

"To add insult to injury, we start hearing all the reports of politicians' entitlements, we hear about 'Bronny-gate' and the general excesses around the use of their entitlements," Ms Ryan said.

"It's really tough if you're on minimum wage, or close to, to hear about how other people live, what they expect to receive, what they expect the public to fund, and then the cleaners to be left so far behind.

"[The politicians are] the most powerful people in the country — if they can't fix the cleaners' wage, what hope do the rest of us have?"

"We had hoped that the media attention around that and the general community support that the cleaners received would've moved the Government to do the right thing by this group of workers,"

"The Speaker's position is in charge of the contract through the Department of Parliamentary Services," Ms Ryan said.

"We would hope perhaps with a new Speaker who's come in on the basis of being fair to all, will actually see that there's some fundamental unfairness in expecting hard working cleaners to go without." -Lyndal Ryan, the ACT Secretary of United Voice



Tony Abbott keeps telling battling Aussies to "have a go" as if any Aussie that is battling must be a lazy and bad person that isnt even trying. Is this really any way to motivate people? Is that what he is even trying to do? Of course not and he isnt fooling anyone. Tony Abbott refers to wealthy Australians as 'high calibre' so we can only assume that he feels that the rest of us are low calibre but we are clearly smart enough to see through his nonsense because his approval rating is very low and his government has been hated by Australians since the day it took power. Not only is it Tony Abbotts job to create jobs - but it is also his job to create and maintain good jobs. Good jobs. Not just any jobs. And certainly not worse jobs. Good jobs. A job is worth nothing if it does not pay a decent and fair wage that a person can live on and with Australia having the highest cost of living it is only natural that cleaners and all other low paid workers will be pushing for better conditions - not worse. If Tony Abbott cant reduce the cost of living like he promised he would then he needs to improve pay and conditions for Australian workers. If anyone needs to 'have a go' in Australia it is our PM Tony Abbott not the battlers.


What do you reckon? Are Aussie cleaners worth $22.90 per hour.

How much do cleaners make where you live?

Invalids/Gattaca (google images)

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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  • Pink sunset 2017-12-18 06:24

    You should come and holiday in central western NSW. It is a good place for looking at the sun, moon and stars.

  • Pink sunset 2017-12-17 15:49

    Not in Beijing. There are too many buildings around where I live now. The sun, moon, and stars are hard to trace and the sky is refined to a small area. I guess an open space is necessary to discover the beauty of the sky.

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