A group of
essential workers at a South Auckland primary school are now struggling with
their future after learning that they face redundancy from a job they’ve given
their all to.
weeks ago, the four contracted cleaners at Finlayson Park School, who have been
working there for about six years and throughout the COVID-19 crisis, found out
their employer’s cleaning contract had not been renewed and had been given to a
But rather than
rehire the existing cleaners, the franchisor has proposed to contract the work
to a family-run franchisee.
have pleaded with the school’s management to meet with them to hear their
They want the
school to directly employ them at the Living Wage rate to do the job – a cost
the Ministry of Education agreed to cover for all directly employed E tū
members working as school caretakers, cleaners, and canteen staff back in 2019
– or for the franchisee to employ them to carry on the work.
principal and the chairperson of the board of trustees didn’t want to talk to
us or even listen to how we feel,” says one cleaner, Siatua Alani.
“We feel really
hurt – betrayed, disrespected, and not valued. At least they could acknowledge
the good work we have done for the school. It feels like they just don’t care –
it feels like we are nothing to them.”
cleaners live locally, and many have also had children who have been through
“We always used
to go the extra mile as our kids went to school here, and in the past year
we’ve been doing our bit to keep the school community safe as essential
workers. Then we get treated this way,” says another cleaner, Lika Toleafoa.
“All we want to
do is continue cleaning for the school.”
E tū organiser
Fala Haulangi says it’s a huge deal for the school cleaners to lose their jobs.
have been paid for the past week, there has been no work for these cleaners
since the Friday before last.
“E tū has basically been told by the incoming franchisor via their consultation
document, there will be no work for them in the future as this is carried out
by franchisees,” Fala says.
working locally was a way for these essential, loyal yet low-paid workers to
continue to survive financially, as well as having a strong sense of community
and working for the greater good.
management have control over who they choose to clean the school, and they’ve
chosen to go with this franchisor, even though they knew that it would mean
their old cleaners would likely lose their jobs.”
management needs to reconsider its decision, or request that their new
contracted franchisee rehire the existing cleaners.
absolutely no reason the school cannot employ the cleaners directly to do the
job and at the Living Wage too – an expense that would be funded by the Ministry
of Education. We are calling on the school to step up and do the right thing.”
highlights perfectly why Fair Pay Agreements are crucial to make sure all
workers, including contractors, have minimum employment standards and
conditions, and to stop employers’ ‘race to the bottom’.
redundancy consultation ended on Friday 25 June.
information and comment:
Fala Haulangi, 027 204 6332