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Wednesday, 4 June 1997
Page: 4888

Mr McMULLAN —Mr Speaker, I direct a question to you which relates to the recurrence of the dispute between Limro Cleaning Services and the cleaners of this parliament. I have a series of questions that are very relevant to all members as well as to those workers. Are you aware that Limro has proposed to change the hours of work for cleaners from four to eight each morning, so they conclude before the offices are in use, to from six until 10, so they will be cleaned while members are at work in their offices? Has Limro lied when they told those workers that they made that change at the request of the Joint House Department, because Joint House has denied that allegation? Do you support this change? Do you realise that many cleaners will not be able to change their hours because of their family responsibilities and therefore will have to quit? Are you aware that those cleaners who can and do make the change will lose $70 a week because of the loss of penalties? Are you aware that many of these cleaners, mainly women, have approximately seven years service and will be eligible for pro rata long service leave if they were terminated but not if they resign? Is it also the case that any financial benefits from this inconvenience to members and this injustice to staff will go to Limro and not to the parliament or the taxpayer?

Mr SPEAKER —I thank the member for Canberra for his multifaceted question. I will take most of it on notice. Members would be aware that there are some ongoing disputes between the Limro organisation and their employees. I understand that yesterday Limro advised their cleaning staff in Parliament House of a proposal to take effect in four weeks time of a change to their early shift start time from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m.

The union called a stop-work meeting for the morning. At that meeting the cleaners resolved to take indefinite strike action until Limro withdraws the proposal. The Joint House Department is still to discuss the proposal with the Parliament House occupants to determine its workability. Strike action started at 8 a.m. today. However, the cleaning of the building was substantially completed before 8 a.m. Some staff have reported for duty. During the day they, together with Limro supervisors and management, will concentrate on toilet cleaning and the emptying of wastepaper bins throughout the building.

The dispute has been listed for hearing by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission in Canberra for 3 p.m. this day. As I get further information, I will update that information for you and the House as appropriate.