Angry cleaners have confronted Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews over what they claim is systemic wage theft in the public school sector at Labor’s state conference.
United Voice officials and members held aloft a banner reading “Rip off, Victoria – The Wage Theft State” at the front of the conference in Melbourne on Saturday.
Others waved mock number plates carrying the slogan as Mr Andrews spoke to the crowded conference room at Moonee Valley Racecourse.
While talking about creating more employment opportunities including a new Victorian Jobs Partnership, Mr Andrews didn’t, however, address the issue.
The union says hundreds of “backyard operators” are ripping off state school cleaners with an audit finding 80 per cent are being paid below the award wage.
“We estimate the total wage theft bill to be up to $10 million a year, out of the pay packets of the state’s 4000 school cleaners,” United Voice state secretary Jess Walsh said in a resolution after Mr Andrews left.
Labor members also railed against the government over its plan to get the private sector on board to help roll out the national disability insurance scheme.
Unions and parents are worried that by including the private sector, the quality of worker conditions and client services will decline.
Last November central branch members were stripped of their rights to vote for candidate preselection and conference delegates after a branch stacking scandal and investigation.
A bid to restore those rights on Saturday was unsuccessful.
However the conference did vote to bring in affirmative action measures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander preselection.
Earlier, when announcing his new Victorian Jobs Partnership, Mr Andrews said there would be a summit of experts to create a new jobs road map.
The talkfest of 50 experts, including 25 from unions, will work to grow local manufacturing, industry assistance initiatives, fill skill gaps and push more women into construction and engineering.
Mr Andrews also pushed the benefits of his CFA split plan.
In order to circumvent a CFA pay deal deadlock, the government announced on Friday it would make the fire service volunteers-only and create a new authority for career CFA firefighters to merge with their metropolitan counterparts.
The conference runs over two days, with federal Labor leader Bill Shorten to speak on Sunday.