Offer comes up in the wash

Linda Russell at Spotless Laundry and, below, showing what could be bought with the $7 a week increase. Pictures: Supplied United Voice
Linda Russell at Spotless Laundry and, below, showing what could be bought with the $7 a week increase. Pictures: Supplied United Voice

And the group is claiming a success, with bargaining talks after the protest bringing an offer for a 3.5 percent increase each year, for three years, which members later endorsed.

Employee Deb Edwards said the offer of a 1.5 per cent rise made her feel degraded, when United Voice was fighting on their behalf for a 4.5 percent increase.

Ms Edwards said bread and milk was chosen to represent what workers could buy with the $7 a week wage increase.

‘We’re definitely worth a lot more than $7 a week,’ she said.

‘The conditions that we work under and what they expect from the staff is sometimes over the top. They keep claiming that we’re above award rate but that doesn’t always pay your bills.

‘There are women in here that are on their own. That have children and that rely on their wages, so if we don’t keep up even with inflation, they’re not going to survive.’

Casual staff members who have been working regularly for more than nine months will also be made permanent following acceptance of the new offer, but staggered start times will be stopped.

United Voice WA Secretary Carolyn Smith said the protest highlighted the power people had when they united.

‘Spotless management’s original offer was far too low, well below the cost of living increases we see every day in WA, but United Voice members made their case to management.

‘That money will mean all the difference when the household bills come in.’

Ms Edwards said staff were ‘over the moon’ about the outcome.

‘They’re having a good laugh and it’s also showing management that they are determined,’ she said.

‘They’re not going to be walked over any more.

‘When you do industrial action, people think it’s always just for money and all the rest, but it’s not always about the money. It’s about being respected.

‘Management say, ‘Oh, we do respect you.’ It’s a matter of you working together.’