Ikon workers take a stand

Members handed out flyers and spread awareness to their issues outside the AFLW Grand Final. (supplied)

Gerald Lynch

Cleaners from Melbourne Airport rallied outside of the weekend’s sold-out AFLW grand final on Sunday, highlighting what they call ‘disrespect and poverty wages’ that cleaners face working for airport cleaning contractor, IKON Services Australia.

Cleaning staff at IKON, which also sponsors the Carlton venue, have been campaigning since July in an effort to improve their wages and conditions.

Workers have told their union, the United Workers Union (UWU), that because of their low wages, turn-over is high, shifts are often left unfilled and those who remain take on higher workloads. As a result, toilets are left uncleaned and bins are left unemptied with workers unable to keep up.

In the leadup to the rally, UWU coordinator Damien Davie said it was unfair that cleaning workers had to get by on poverty wages while IKON maintained its lucrative sponsorship deal at Carlton Football Club’s home ground.

“Sadly, a lot of the work that cleaners undertake is completely undervalued in our society but these are essential frontline workers, who do back breaking work for very little money and without them the airport wouldn’t run,” he said.

“We consider what these workers do as essential but then have the gall to expect them to work unsafely during unsociable hours, with long commutes for a little bit above $20-per-hour.

“We are raising awareness with punters at this weekend’s Grand Final because we need them to know that company which paid to have the big shiny sign atop the stadium are completely unwilling to make small adjustments to improve the lives of their workers.”

UWU members at the airport are considering taking industrial action later in the month in their pursuit to improve wages and conditions at the airport.

The workers’ demands include a five percent increase above the minimum, drastic improvements to safety guidelines and protections, and for the company to pay for parking.

IKON was contacted for comment.