Union fears less staff and heavier workloads
SCHOOL cleaner numbers in Ipswich could be cut in half and their workloads doubled.
That is the fear of the United Voice union due to changes in the cleaners' enterprise agreement that would impact about 400 cleaners in the Ipswich region.
But Minister for Education John-Paul Langbroek said "this is just another example of United Voice peddling unnecessary fear amongst its members".
With concerns aleady high over outsourcing after January 18, the union's education co-ordinator Michael Clifford said "the minute you do a new enterprise agreement you can't have any clauses in them about the management of workloads".
"Those provisions are also banned after January," he said.
"School cleaners have provisions in their enterprise agreement that articulate how their work is to be done. It says they have a certain amount of time to clean basins and toilets and ... that ensures there are appropriate levels of staff to do the work that is required to provide a healthy and hygienic school.
"Even if they don't get outsourced, they could halve the numbers of cleaners and double the workloads.
"The obscene thing is that in passing that legislation the government is saying it is not fair or reasonable for workers to have a say in what a fair and reasonable workload is."
But Mr Langbroek said "we will always need school cleaners to keep our schools safe and hygienic, so claims that cleaner numbers in Ipswich could be cut in half are simply not true".
"The new modern awards, together with the Queensland Employment Standards, would provide a minimum safety net of fair and relevant employment conditions.
"Other issues can be negotiated in enterprise bargaining agreements or set out in employer policies."
He said the move to modernise the state's award process followed a federal modernisation.
Chris Rowntree, who has been the cleaner at Camira State School for 32 years, said cleaners needed to be respected.
"I have been at my school for 32 years and I have had generations of families come through the school," she said.
"We have a very strong loyalty and affinity with our schools and so much concern for the staff and the children."