The commercial cleaning industry’s body, the Building Service Contractors Association of New Zealand (BSCNZ), says it’s campaigning for the sector’s voice to be heard during COVID-19.
“[COVID-19] has reiterated to all how crucial our industry is, especially while we continue our essential service of cleaning ‘essential services’,” Sarah McBride, CEO of BSCNZ, told Inclean NZ.
McBride said the industry is continuing discussions with government, lobbying for the sector to have further clarity in regard to its position within ‘essential services’ during the Level 4 lockdown. But also, to develop and gain further understanding of what will happen for the sector as the country potentially moves to level 3 and then level 2.
“We are facing a new future for New Zealander’s and we need to be strategising and reviewing what the new working and living environment will be and how this will impact on the commercial cleaning sector. In the ‘new’ working environment great emphasis will be placed upon ‘distancing’ and the importance of health and safety measures while tracking movements. ”
Like many industries globally, sourcing PPE equipment for frontline workers is an issue for cleaning workers in New Zealand.
“We are lobbying government to ensure PPE gear is available for supporting essential services during level 4 lock down. We will also remind government of the ongoing pressure regarding cash flow for the following few months, especially when you take into consideration that some [operators] have zero active contracts during this lock down period.
“In comparison, some cleaning contractors have contracts to support essential services such as healthcare, food manufacturing and supermarkets etc. These portions of commercial cleaning contracts have ramped up their cleaning frequencies, with some operators actively looking for additional labour. ”
McBride said BSCNZ is developing a number of initiative in conjunction with Ministry of Social Development (MSD). The association is currently co-ordinating the transfer of labour between members.
“We are talking to members that have staff that can work, trying to assist with the transfer of labour between members to ensure those who are still operating can continue to do so.
“In the coming months we are expecting demand [for cleaning services] to increase, however, what that looks like will be changing. BSCNZ will continue to do all we can to be the voice of our industry as well as co-ordinate efforts to make the transition as smooth as possible for our members during this period.
“As an industry we have always known an outbreak or pandemic like this was a real potential. It is going to be a balancing act for members in the coming six months, as the industry body will be doing all it can to assist.
“Our workers will continue to be at the forefront of this fight. This is a game changer for our industry in terms of how we’re viewed and the importance of what we do. This year Thank Your Cleaner Day will take on a whole new meaning.”
Last week the minimum wage increased by $1.20 from $17.70 to $18.90 per hour, despite calls to postpone the increase due to the coronavirus outbreak. The new rate equates to an extra $48 per week before tax for employees on a 40-hour working week.
The starting-out and training minimum wage rates increased 96 cents from $14.16 to $15.12 and will remain at 80 per cent of the adult rate.
McBride said the association and its members were disappointed by the timing of the wage rise.
“We, along with most of our members, are disappointed the minimum wage rise went ahead. Businesses are already under increased pressure during these unprecedented times, so this just adds a further complication for business owners.
“We support paying our cleaners as much we can, however, we are disappointed with the timing of the announcement.”
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