School cleaners are fearing mass staff departures if the government doesn’t step up to solve an overworking crisis.
A rowdy crowd of union members gathered on the steps of NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet’s office in Martin Place to demand the government ends contracts with private companies.
School cleaners under government contracts are tied for the fourth highest workers’ compensation premiums in a list of 500 careers across NSW.
Professional footballers top the list and are followed respectively by concrete construction workers and shearers in second and third place.
The cleaners say it is a result of rising rates of injury at work.
School cleaners and the United Workers Union protested outside Dominic Perrottet’s office on Tuesday to demand better working conditions. Dave Malley fires up the crowd. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift
“It’s a god awful mess all the time,” cleaner Mitchell Elliott said.
“We found ourselves getting stressed and injured, we have the fourth highest injury rate in the state for any work – which is insane, given that the workers are primarily middle to older aged women.”
Milena Petrovic has been cleaning in public schools and TAFEs for 23 years and says things are getting “worse and worse”.
School cleaners are calling for better working conditions, and an end to private contracts. Picture: SuppliedCleaners report sometimes only get 17 seconds to clean one toilet. Picture: Supplied.
“The workloads have increased, we have to do more with less time and there is a lack of training, lots of unpaid hours, it’s getting harder and harder,” she said.
The United Workers Union (UWU) claims workers are being asked to complete more than 650 tasks a day under their NSW government contracts.
“They’ve had enough, they’re tired, and they’re sick of the unsafe and unsustainable workloads,” UWU property services co-ordinator Linda Revill said.
“The responsibility to keep workers safe has been completely and disastrously outsourced by the NSW Government.”
Milena Petrovic (front centre) has been in the industry for 23 years. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David SwiftProtesters held a combination of slogan signs and images of the gross things they are forced to confront at work. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift
It comes after shocking reports last month that sinks blocked and filled with toilet paper, mounting piles of rubbish, and overflowing bins are a common sight for low-paid public school cleaners.
Ms Petrovic told NCA NewsWire she regularly finds faeces dumped outside the toilet bowl at least once a month at the all-girls high school she works at in Sydney.
The union members were seen shouting outside Mr Perrottet’s office. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift
“During the HSC, I went into a toilet marked as ‘out of order,’ and nearly fainted when I opened the door,” she said.
“A student had squatted on the toilet and pooed all over the toilet. I had to get a bucket and gloves and clean as much as possible.”
NCA NewsWire has contacted the Premier’s office for comment.
The union delivered 1000 postcards, including handwritten notes from cleaners across the state, to the Premier’s door.
There were a number of police officers guarding the entrance to 52 Martin Place as two union members hand delivered the postcards to Mr Perrottet’s office – though it’s understood he was not there.
Read related topics:Dominic Perrottet