Cleaners at Auckland Airport will be stopping work today and going on strike, after their employer OCS has offered zero increase in recent negotiations.
The workers will strike in groups and will be on a picket line at the Auckland Domestic Terminal (Air New Zealand side) from 1:30pm until 2:30pm.
OCS is one of the parties to the multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) for commercial cleaners, which also includes ISS, City Cleaning, PPCS, Total Property Services (TPS), Millennium, Kleenrite, Watershed, United Cleaning Services, and Westferry. These companies hold some of the biggest cleaning contracts across both the public and private sector.
While the MECA has been settled with some margin above the minimum wage in previous years, this time the employers aren’t budging.
Jacqueline Davis, an airport cleaner who will be going on strike today, says the zero offer shows the companies don’t care about their workers.
“Personally, I think they just don’t give a damn about us. We’re nothing in their eyes, we’re just the little cleaners,” Jacqueline says.
“OCS and all the other companies need to treat us with respect. If it wasn’t for us cleaners, the airport would be a hell of a mess. They need to treat us like people, we are sick of being treated like doormats.”
E tū has been campaigning for the Living Wage for cleaners. Jacqueline says getting the Living Wage would be a huge help, including for her health.
“Right now, if I get sick, I can’t afford to take the day off or go to the doctor. I had to use up all my sick leave after an accident, so I simply have no choice.
“Getting a decent wage would mean not having to worry about finding the money for a simple day off and a doctor’s visit.”
E tū Director, Sarah Thompson, says OCS and the other cleaning companies need to step up.
“This is such a harsh position from the employer group,” Sarah says.
“It shows that they just don’t value the essential work of cleaners like Jacqueline and thousands of others.”
Sarah says it’s a clear demonstration of why cleaners need a Fair Pay Agreement.
“Right now, we’re getting ready to bargain the very first Fair Pay Agreement for the cleaning industry, which will be the best opportunity in decades to really improve things for this essential workforce.
“The National and ACT parties have promised to scrap Fair Pay Agreements before they even get started. It’s another slap in the face to working people like Jacqueline, and we can’t let that happen.”