Here’s
a small headache for the new CEO of the ABC (and the board) but whether it will
register on their respective radars is doubtful. It
seems the ABC is in the process of changing contract cleaners.


The current
cleaning staff are being offered jobs with the new
operator, but here’s the rub. They
are being asked to become sub-contractors and find their own superannuation and
holiday pay. Many are migrants from Central
America who are uneasy about speaking out for fear of losing their
jobs, which are not well paid. Ironic
then to hear the likes of Kerry O’Brien from The 7.30 Report, Mark Colvin from
PM and Tony Jones from Lateline grilling Federal
Government Ministers about the new WorkChoices approach to Industrial Relations
and conditions, and berating employers trying to chisel their
employees.

Do the
likes of John Faine or Richard Glover or Virginia
Trioli know this is going on? Do they talk to cleaners? Will we
hear these ABC greats and other ABC news or current affairs programs chasing up
this story and the ultimate employer, the ABC, which cannot wash its hands of
some responsibility? It can
at least insist that proper wages and conditions are paid and ensure the
contractor is paid accordingly. To this
end, some courageous cleaners last night sent this email throughout the
ABC:

Most of the cleaners are leaving next week
as the new company QUAD has won the tender for less money, we all want to stay
here even if with the same company and with the same
conditions. With the new company if some of us stay we
will be paid less money and a contract that its not
stable. We encourage everyone at ABC to get behind
us for the last time and think about the future of some of the cleaners that
they don’t have a job to go to and have financial commitments. Some of the
cleaners have been working here for over ten years and we feel part of the ABC
family. Regards, The Cleaners United AAA.

So will
ABC reporters in news and Current Affairs pursue this story? After all, they were
having a go yesterday at the haberdashery chain, Spotlight, for a miserly new
employment contract.

Peter Fray

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