IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Low Pay, Compressed Schedules and High Work Intensity: A Study of Contract Cleaners in Australia


  • Iain Campbell

    () (RMIT University)

  • Manu Peeters

    (RMIT University)


Contract cleaners are a significant group of low-paid workers in Australia. This paper examines their pay and working conditions, drawing on ABS data, documents and other secondary literature, as well as a program of interviews with cleaners and cleaning managers. We argue that low pay for this group of workers is linked not only to low hourly rates but also to short and irregular hours of paid work. This draws attention to the fact that contract cleaners face problems that extend beyond pay rates to other aspects of job quality such as work schedules and workloads. The dominant profile for cleaning work is one of low pay, compressed schedules and high work intensity. We suggest that this unfortunate mix of job characteristics is anchored in the structure of the industry and the practices of property owners, property tenants and cleaning companies. Particularly important are the imperatives of labour cost-cutting, which push contract cleaning companies to intensify work and to avoid minimum labour standards.

Suggested Citation

  • Iain Campbell & Manu Peeters, 2008. "Low Pay, Compressed Schedules and High Work Intensity: A Study of Contract Cleaners in Australia," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 11(1), pages 27-46, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:ozl:journl:v:11:y:2008:i:1:p:27-46

    Download full text from publisher

    To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
    1. Check below whether another version of this item is available online.
    2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
    3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

    More about this item


    Personal; Professional; and Business Services Wages; Compensation; and Labor Costs: General Labor Standards: General;

    JEL classification:

    • L84 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Personal, Professional, and Business Services
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • J80 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - General


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ozl:journl:v:11:y:2008:i:1:p:27-46. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Alan Duncan). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.