University of Canterbury cleaners are among the lowest paid members of TEU and accordingly the branch there was concerned when it started receiving complaints from some cleaners that the impact of a new parking policy was going to affect them disproportionately. The university’s new policy would cost them up to $300 a year for parking for an hour between 8am and 9am. The branch also received calls of support for the cleaners’ predicament from both academic and general staff members.
Many of the cleaners start work at 4am and finish at 9am. Due to the ‘one size fits all’ parking policy, cleaners would have been billed for parking between 8am and 9am – this would have represented nearly six days’ wages from their annual income for an hour’s parking a day. However, the branch now advises that, while university has not resolved all unfair cleaner outcomes, it has acknowledged TEU’s argument on this one issue, and agreed to adapt the policy start time to prevent a potential injustice occurring.
The branch, concerned this could have compounded the impact of the recent 0 percent wage settlement, decided it needed to show cleaners that they were respected and considered positively. Thus it distributed ‘gift packs’ containing TEU branded material donated by the national union and a few local edible and drinkable ‘goodies’ to all cleaner members..