Companies blame WorkChoices for move to cut pay

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Companies blame WorkChoices for move to cut pay

A multinational cleaning company is blaming WorkChoices for its decision to cut $20-a-week from the pay of almost 300 low-paid workers at Defence bases in Victoria.

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A multinational cleaning company is blaming WorkChoices for its decision to cut $20-a-week from the pay of almost 300 low-paid workers at Defence bases in Victoria.

The Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union (LHMU) says it has received a letter from Spotless Services saying it had no choice but to cut rates to stay competitive.

‘Spotless’ competitors (including future competitors who are new entrants to the defence contracting industry) will have significantly increased flexibility and decreased costs due to the new options under the new WorkChoices system,’ the letter states.

The LHMU said it is in enterprise agreement negotiations with Spotless for cleaners at army bases in Melbourne and Puckapunyal.

Hours extended

The company had offered a 4% increase each year over three years on the condition work hours be extended and casual and part-time loading be decreased.

LHMU Victorian Secretary Brian Daley said the current base rate of $468.45 was already below the Defence Award rate of $484.40.

‘Spotless is the first cab off the rank and their action could lead to widespread undercutting in the industry,’ Daley said.

Spotless employs more than 27,000 people worldwide and services 20,000 clients throughout Australia and New Zealand, according to the company website.

The LHMU said Spotless’ profit in the last financial year grew from $23 million to $56 million.

Coles too

The ACTU says Coles Myer is also moving to cut pay rates for people who work in its stores.

‘We have Spotless Services, a major employer in the hospitality and services sector, and Coles-Myer, one of Australia’s biggest corporations, starting to use the new IR laws to cut the wages of their employees,’ said ACTU Secretary Greg Combet.

Outsourcing maintenance

‘In the case of Coles-Myer, the outsourcing of maintenance work for its stores to a new national contractor PMS Ltd will result in the loss of Rostered Days Off and a pay cut of $8,000 a year for some of the skilled tradespeople it employs at outlets that include Bourke St Melbourne.

‘The new Coles-Myer contracting arrangements are part of a national re-shuffle of around 70 maintenance contracts that will affect the jobs of hundreds of employees nation-wide.’

Combet said qualified electricians in its Melbourne stores are currently contracted to Coles-Myer on an annual salary of $53,000 a year but the new contractor is only offering to pay electricians and other skilled tradespeople $45,000 a year under a new ‘greenfields’ non-union employment contract.

Combet also claimed Spotless plans to introduce ‘split shifts’ that mean a worker ‘can be paid to help prepare breakfast, then be unpaid for two hours, and then be required to work again during the lunch period’.

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