Can you imagine struggling with debilitating injuries every minute of every day?
My name is Wendy, I’m a cleaner at a major Melbourne shopping centre and I will always have to live with extreme pain in my shoulders and my arms.
I can’t drive a car. I can’t hang up the washing. I can’t open jars. I can’t even sleep without pain. All the things we take for granted, I can’t do without help.
I will have to live with this pain for the rest of my life. And it’s all because of the crazy workloads in my job as a cleaner. The shopping centre where I work is enormous and getting bigger all the time, but sometimes I have to clean all of it in less than six hours. That’s just impossible.
Shopping centre owners and cleaning contractors have cut back on hours and staff. Every day, they expect us to do more and more work in less time. It’s no wonder my body is broken.
Even if I got a million dollars a year, it would never compensate me for the life I have lost. But I don’t get a million dollars a year. I’m paid as little as $17 an hour.
For that, I have to handle dirty syringes. I mop up vomit and blood. I am down on my hands and knees, breaking my back trying to make my centre look beautiful for shoppers.
The pittance they pay me means that I struggle with my bills. I put them off, but they have to be paid eventually. So, I have to borrow money. I’m caught in a spiral and I really worry about where it will end.
Am I being exploited? Of course I am. Shopping centres need us to make a profit, yet they do everything they can to keep our pay as low as possible.
They get away with it because people don’t care about cleaners. They just don’t care. They see a clean shopping centre and they never think of the hard work that go into trying to keep it clean.
That’s why cleaners like me want shoppers like you to know the truth about their shopping centres.
It’s too late for me. My body will never recover. But there is still time for thousands of cleaners out there just like me. With your help we can make shopping centres and their cleaning contractors listen, and provide cleaner malls for you – and fair workloads and decent wages for us, your cleaners.
Thanks for your support.
Wendy, shopping centre cleaner
PS. Have you voted in our poll of the country’s dirtiest shopping centres? Your vote will help name and shame the malls that exploit hard-working cleaners and could change our lives forever, so vote now!