Last Friday, the 29th of June 2018, was a day for the cleaning industry to be saddened by: 270 school cleaning contractors who had served nearly 1200 schools in the greater metropolitan area of Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula, provided their last service to the Victorian Government State School sector as their school cleaning contracts were ended.
Why did the school cleaning contracts end?
Ask the Premier and the Minister for Education. They say that it is to “ensure cleaners are paid correctly and not ripped of by bosses exploiting workers”. No cleaner was to lose a job. All successful cleaners had to offer cleaners work. Sorry gentlemen, but what you wanted to avoid is happening. We cleaned 13 schools that were part of this mess. Each school expressed their concern that we were not being retained. Our cleaners were disappointed with the offers they received. Some have chosen to stay, as the alternative was not acceptable (starve or not pay for basic necessities of life).
After ending the school cleaning contracts, we have seen offers of employment that are based on incorrect pay rates, employment conditions and for hours that could not suffice, to provide the right level of service, to have a hygienic environment. We live in hope that the error of the Department’s ways will be seen. We are not holding our breath however. The groundswell of support from our clients was great, but they too have little influence on a policy decision. Here is what we received from them, names have been removed to immunise them from department political exposure:
- I would like to say a huge thanks to you, the cleaning staff and the Sebastian group as a whole for taking care of our school facilities over the last few years. You have helped bring back a true sense of pride we have in our facilities and learning environments. Our campus has never looked better. On a personal level I have always found you to be professional, approachable and effective in handling ongoing requests, reminders and queries. Your response time and respective action has always been prompt and I could not have been happier. Your problem solving skills, empathy and accountability is truly exceptional and very hard to find. As a member of the leadership team here at [school]. I can vouch for all of us by saying how sad we are to see you and your staff go. If it were up to us, we would have liked to continue this relationship well into the future. On behalf of the team, the broader staff body and our families, you have our sincere gratitude. Wishing you all the best for the future. Many thanks, …
- Dear Ross, thank you for email. The arrangements for transition that you have outlined below are acceptable to [name] Primary School. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you very much for the cleaning service Sebastian has provided since being awarded the contract last year. We have been pleased with the level of service, particularly the responsiveness of your Customer Service Supervisor, Effie Madaferri, who has been extremely approachable and proactive, delivering service of an exemplary standard. We wish you every success.
- Hi Ross, thank you for your email and your consideration with our transitioning to the new cleaners. Your method of transition is acceptable. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your service and particularly make mention of Effie and her outstanding service to us. Effie was always most professional and efficient in managing any of our concerns or issues. This was very much appreciated. I wish you and company well and hope this this decision by DET is something that you can quickly recover from.
- Hi Ross, this all really sad and I apologise on behalf of the department. Many of my colleagues are not happy with the arrangements but there is little we can do. I wish you and all those at Sebastian the very best for the future.