The Irish Contract Cleaning Association (ICCA) works with the relevant trade unions in negotiating Joint Labour Committee (JLC) agreements on rates of pay in the contract cleaning sector. Once pay proposals have been negotiated, they are submitted to the Labour Court for approval. Once approved by the Labour Court and the Government of the day, the pay agreements are then legally enforceable.
The most recent pay proposal for the contract cleaning sector was negotiated through the JLC process over the course of 2019. The resulting joint proposal from the ICCA and trade unions was submitted to the JLC Chair on 2nd March 2020. The proposal provided for an increase of 40c per hour on contract cleaners’ salaries.
Since the proposal was submitted to the Labour Court, the economic context in which the contract cleaning industry operates has changed profoundly. The Covid-19 pandemic has led to extraordinary economic circumstances for almost all industries, with mass lay-offs, rapidly increasing unemployment, and the closure of thousands of workplaces, retail outlets, education and hospitality venues nationwide.
In common with almost every other industry in Ireland, the contract cleaning industry has been negatively impacted by the economic consequences of Covid-19. The closure of retail, education, leisure and corporate buildings has greatly decreased the scope of contract cleaning work, leading in turn to staff lay-offs for some cleaning companies, which will hopefully be temporary. The retention of jobs in our sector is among our primary concerns as we work through this unprecedented crisis.
As a result of the sudden and severe economic repercussions of Covid-19, the ICCA wrote to the JLC on 29th April 2020, asking to re-open negotiations around the current pay proposal for the contract cleaning sector. We are not asking for the 40c increase to be dropped. Rather, we asked for a meeting to discuss the timing of the increase, with a view to ensuring it is introduced in a way that does not result in additional lay-offs or the cessation of contracts by clients, many of whom are themselves experiencing unprecedented loss of income and resulting financial pressures.
On 1st May, the ICCA was informed that the trade unions were unwilling to have such a meeting. As such, the pay proposal agreed over the course of 2019 remains with the JLC and the Labour Court for approval. Typically, once a pay agreement has been adopted by the Labour Court, it is then given statutory effect by the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation and, at that stage, becomes legally binding. The ICCA’s understanding is that the current JLC agreement may not be given statutory effect until government negotiations have concluded and a new Government is officially in place.
Like many labour-intensive service industries, traditionally, cleaning has been a low-paid sector. Wages are dictated by what those who use cleaning services are prepared to pay.
The ICCA believes the Covid-19 crisis has demonstrated the real value of those working in cleaning services, not just in healthcare and frontline services, but in every workplace and public setting nationwide. We remain committed to working with the trade unions – through the JLC process – to ensure fair remuneration and working conditions for all those employed in the contract cleaning sector.
As our industry works hard to keep healthcare settings safe, and to ensure regular workplaces can re-open, we hope society – as a whole – will begin to place a greater value on the essential work done by cleaners.
Contact: Emma Walsh / Martina Quinn, Alice PR & Events, Tel: 083-3839791 / 087-6522033, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org