BIKASH BASNET said his mother would cry if he told her the truth about what he did in Australia. In Nepal he worked in marketing. Now he is a toilet cleaner, and has to clean 23 toilets a night.”When I go into the male toilets everything is on the floor. The hand towels are on the floor … it is hard to get it done in four hours,” he says.Mr Basnet said most cleaners in his building are Asian, and cannot speak English well enough to negotiate as they come under pressure to complete more work in less time.Mr Basnet, 27, said cleaning was the only work he could find when he moved to Australia with his wife, Rojinnpradhan, 23, who is studying business.Mrs Basnet wants to run her own office one day, but for now works evenings emptying bins, tidying desks and wiping the coffee spills of Sydney office workers.She says people are encouraging. Her husband wishes office workers were a little tidier. He wants to remind them ”someone is doing toilets to get paid”.A breakthrough deal by 18 big cleaning companies, covering half the commercial building space in the Sydney CBD, will increase wages and conditions for more than 3000 cleaners in the city.The Clean Start agreement, negotiated by the Liquor, Hospitality & Miscellaneous Union, was triggered only after a majority of cleaning companies signed up.The minimum shift will be increased to four hours. Pay rates will rise by 4-8 per cent a year over four years. A toilet cleaning allowance of $4 a shift will be paid.”It is about trying to create a living wage for cleaners to give them dignity and respect,” said the LHMU’s national secretary, Louise Tarrant. ”The reputable companies want to compete on quality cleaning, not just who’s got the cheapest and most exploited workforce.”The NSW president of the Building Services Contractors Association of Australia, Terry Corby, employs 250 staff at his cleaning company.Major building owners had been receptive to the argument that a quality cleaning service may cost a little more, he said.Mostofa Tareque, 25, was once a human resources officer for a mobile phone company in Dhaka. ”That was a good job and good money,” recalls Mr Tareque, who clocks on at 6pm to vacuum a Clarence St office tower. ”Cleaning is hard work.”
Nanjing Night Net

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