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

Author

Listed:
  • Iain Campbell

    () (RMIT University)

  • Manu Peeters

    (RMIT University)

Abstract

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
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    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

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