Saturday, June 17, 2006

Been up all night cleaning to earn her daily bread

The Clean-start for cleaners campaign has caused quite a debate on indymedia and I agree with most of the criticisms. I absolutely support the cleaners in organising for better wages and conditions. I also think targeting building owners is an excellent idea, because subcontracting is the scourge of cleaning, and other sorts of low-paid work. But, as well as the reservations already expressed on indymedia, I'm not convinced by the clean start campaign's rhetoric around 'raising cleaning standards'.

I understand where the union's demand comes from . It's often incredibly frustrating to people who are trying to do a job well that the boss won't roster on enough people, or provide enough equipment. I've been in many meetings in many different sorts of jobs where people have complained about how they can't do their job properly, because of the policy of the bosses. Cleaning contractors are a classic example of this, because they are always trying to cut costs and win the contract so they'll have fewer and fewer workers covering more and more work area. This means that buildings don't get cleaned properly, and the cleaners are often blamed, although it is the fault of the companies.

But I think cleaners should assert their visibility by basing the campaign around their needs, not on the needs of buildings.

In other industrial news I have this to say about the DHB's who are refusing to meet the junior doctor's demand for safer working hours:

It's a sad day when people with a duty of care to save lives feel its necessary to hold thousands of patients to ransom
It turns out that the DHBs said it first, and they were talking about the junior doctors, but I know who I think it most applies to.

Edited to add: Kevin a junior doctor from the Waikato has an excellent blog that explains many of the important issues that the media can't (or won't).

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