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Motion: International Cleaners Day


Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. R.B. Martin:

That this council—

1. Notes that 15 June 2023 is International Cleaners Day;

2. Acknowledges that International Cleaners Day calls for the worldwide recognition and respect of the essential work done by cleaners to support the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities; and

3. Congratulates all cleaners and cleaning staff for their hard work and dedication.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:57): I rise today to speak in strong support of this motion, and I thank the Hon. Reggie Martin for bringing this issue to the attention of the council. International Cleaners Day began as Justice for Janitors Day. It was the anniversary of the brutal 1990 clubbing by Los Angeles police of low-wage janitors protesting in the city's Century City district on 15 June that brought around that day. Violent images of the quashing of the protest were seen right around the world, galvanising public opinion in favour of the janitors and becoming an example of the sort of collective action that leads to better and more equitable working arrangements.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented an immense challenge for all, revealing the true essence of what really is important and the individuals within our community who really are essential for our survival. It is not the large corporations or multinationals that at the end of the day we rely on, but rather the frontline, front-facing workers, often occupying the lowest paid positions in the lowest paid industries, who have been instrumental in carrying us through that crisis.

I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to every cleaner in this state who has bravely worked on the frontline during the pandemic and who works day in, day out ensuring our safety, giving many workers the ability to continue their own work as smoothly as possible. It is high time that we stopped categorising the work of cleaners, work that is vital and life-saving, as unskilled.

These individuals were at the forefront of a global health crisis. They were essential, and it is through their diligent efforts that we all remained, and continue to remain, protected. The existence of a day like International Cleaners Day is crucial in acknowledging the work of cleaners, which far too often goes unnoticed. They put in long hours, often before many of us are at work or sometimes after, and they frequently work alone. Therefore, it is imperative that we acknowledge and appreciate that remarkable contribution of our cleaners.

Their work may be unseen, but we recognise their efforts and express our gratitude. However, mere words of appreciation are not always sufficient. Unfortunately, thousands of cleaners across Australia find themselves trapped in insecure employment when they really deserve stable and dependable jobs. Many of us in this chamber may well have been cleaners in the past. In putting together this speech, I note that one of my first jobs was actually as a cleaner in the Eureka Tavern at Salisbury campus, and my goodness do I have some stories from that.

The Greens stand in solidarity today with cleaners as they advocate for the secure and stable employment they rightfully deserve. I deeply appreciate everything they do for all of us not just today but every single day, and particularly on International Cleaners Day.

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