Canberra Hospital cleaners win right to strike

The Canberra hospital, Garran.  Generic.
The Canberra hospital, Garran. Generic.

Canberra Hospital cleaners have won the right to strike after almost six years without a pay rise.

The Australian Electoral Commission declared the specialist cleaners, who earn about $21 an hour, successfully voted to take a range of industrial actions, including a ban on cleaning toilets and collecting waste, as well as stopping work.

The cleaners received a small bonus earlier this year, but have been locked in a fight with ACT Health to bring their wages in line with public service cleaners for more than a year.

About 100 cleaners are affected and the group have called on the ACT government to fix its contract with ISS - the company which employs them - to allow for a pay rise.

The company claims it cannot pay the cleaners any more than an extra 64 cents an hour, due to insufficient funds in its contract.

Specialist cleaner Tshering Dorji said the work of hospital cleaners was not properly recognised, despite being essential to public health.

"It was a real challenge to have our action officially approved especially as most of the workers are recent arrivals to Australia, but we stood together," he said.

An ACT Health spokeswoman said it had received assurances from ISS that any industrial action would not impact on patient care or clinical services.

A pay increase is currently being negotiated with union United Voice and ISS.

"United Voice have agreed with ISS in writing not to undertake any industrial action while negotiations are proceeding," the spokeswoman said.

"ACT Health understands the next meeting between ISS and UV will take place early in January 2018."

This story Canberra Hospital cleaners win right to strike first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.