School cleaners assigned more than 600 tasks a day in ‘impossible workload’

28th of March 2023
School cleaners assigned more than 600 tasks a day in ‘impossible workload’

Cleaners of state schools in New South Wales, Australia, are given less than a minute a day to mop floors, clean toilets and empty bins, according to Australia's United Workers Union.

The UWU claims this is an "impossible workload" and is leading to stress and injury among cleaners. And besides being one of the lowest-paid professions in the state, school cleaners have the highest injury rates in NSW equalled only by that of saw millers, according to the union.

Documents obtained by the United Workers Union detail how cleaners in state schools are being asked to complete several hundred daily tasks as part of their work routine.

A copy of contract specifications for one cleaning company reveals that cleaners are expected to complete 179 "regular" tasks as well as dozens more "periodic" ones.

According to the union, the "regular" jobs need to be repeated multiple times which means they could total more than 600 tasks every day. And union chiefs claim this means just 47 seconds is allocated for each task based on the average cleaner's work.

Linda Revill, property services coordinator at UWU, said this "stopwatch approach" had led to unsafe workloads for one of the lowest-paid professions in the state.
"Cleaners are stressed about not finishing their jobs, they are injuring themselves in the rush and students, teachers and schools are left without the required cleaning," she said.

The union is asking for the contracting system to be scrapped. "The privatised approach where cleaners are treated as robots rather than human beings has to stop," said Revill.



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