Chris Rowntree fears she will be one of 400 school cleaners in the Ipswich area to have their jobs outsourced.
Chris Rowntree fears she will be one of 400 school cleaners in the Ipswich area to have their jobs outsourced. Rob Williams

Contract out on cleaners

CHRIS Rowntree has been a cleaner at Camira State School for 32 years but fears she will be one of 400 school cleaners in Ipswich area to have their jobs outsourced.

Ms Rowntree's concerns over her job security relate to State Government changes to certified agreements and awards.

Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek insisted in parliament that the government has no plans to outsource school cleaning, but Ms Rowntree is not convinced.

"The decisions of this current government impact heavily on us. It is terrifying," she said.

"It will mean absolute devastation to so many of our members if contract cleaning comes in."

Michael Clifford, United Voice's education co-ordinator, said late last year the LNP Government "banned job security provisions in school cleaners' agreements and awards that had prevented their jobs from being outsourced".

Mr Clifford provided the QT with a letter from Premier Campbell Newman, on behalf of Mr Langbroek, that said the government was committed to honouring the current agreement until its "nominal expiry of January 18, 2015".

"But we have written to the government on numerous occasions asking them to give us a commitment that they won't outsource school cleaner jobs after their enterprise agreement expires but they have refused to give that commitment," Mr Clifford said.

In his letter Mr Newman does go on to say: "I want to make very clear...that the government has no plan to outsource cleaning services. The government has reiterated this commitment time and time again".

Mr Clifford said Mr Newman's statement was "political speak for 'today we have no plans'".

"But we have said, 'If you have no plans, give us the commitment that you won't be outsourcing school cleaning jobs in your next term of government'."

WHAT'S MAKING NEWS

Mr Langbroek has accused the union of furthering a deceptive campaign.

In parliament on August 6 he said "we have no plans to do anything but honour the current agreement we have with our school cleaners and we have no plans to outsource school cleaners".

Yesterday he told the QT that "this commitment has been repeatedly communicated to United Voice by myself, my director general and the premier".

"School cleaners play an important role in ensuring that Queensland schools are safe and welcoming places for students, staff and the community," he said.

Ms Rowntree, one of 105 education workers to attend a meeting held by the State School Alliance in Ipswich this week to discuss workplace issues, said she feared outsourcing would be introduced.

"I have been through all the dramas in 1996 when all government employed cleaners were sacked under the then Liberal government of Rob Borbidge," she said.

"We are facing even worse deprivations this time around.

"I am a widow so I only have one wage coming in. I have got so many colleagues that are the sole wage owner in their family.

"They have children to put through school and mortgages to pay and are totally reliant on the wage they are earning at the moment, which is still a low income.

"If contract cleaning comes in, they are probably going to be out of a job.

"Best case scenario is they may be employed casually by the contractor, but with no guarantee of hours.

"Because we are permanent, our hours are guaranteed."

Ms Clifford said that cleaners would earn "anywhere up to $300 a week less" under contractors.

"Which for us is unsustainable. There are a lot of cleaners that are on anti-depressants, so I don't know what will happen if the axe falls and we are out of jobs."



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