UQ Gatton staff shocked by decision to outsource cleaning staff


Staff at University of Queensland’s (UQ) Gatton campus have reacted with shock to university management’s proposal to outsource more than a dozen cleaners’ jobs. It comes as UQ management advocates for the university to remain “competitive”.

Shabby behaviour for marginal cost savings

“UQ is a big organisation with annual revenue of over $2 billion – it looks shabby for the university to be laying off loyal workers who do an essential service, to make relatively marginal savings,” said National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) UQ Branch President Dr Andrew Bonnell.

Specialised cleaning for a unique campus

Gatton campus is home to the School of Agriculture and Food Sustainability and the School of Vet Science and its animal hospital.

“We are a unique campus with unique cleaning challenges. As an agricultural campus, we have sensitive biosecurity issues that are best served with stable, long-term staff, not contractors,” said Gatton NTEU Sub-Branch President Anthony Young.

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UQ Gatton’s cleaners helped get students and staff on campus safely through the pandemic in 2020 and, having come through that together, the community is concerned that these job losses will be felt more strongly in the local area with current cost-of-living pressures.

“The Gatton campus is still like a community, and the cleaners are valued members of that community, who have been keeping the community safe. They deserve better,” Dr Bonnell told The Bursar.

Read more: University staff strikes to intensify across Victoria

Both men believe UQ management have shown they do not value the vital role cleaners play in the university community, as well as the essential service they provide which is integral in maintaining safety and well-being on this unique campus in the rural community of the Lockyer Valley.

“Hot on the heels of the Qantas debacle, where the reputation of a treasured institute was trashed for putting profits over people, sacking our cleaners is not a good look for UQ,” Mr Young said.

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“We are confident that management will take on board our submissions and petition and drop this proposal.”

anthony young of UQ Gatton Campus

Next steps for the proposal

The proposal to outsource the 13 jobs has now gone out to the UQ Professional Staff Consultation Committee, which includes both union and management representatives, for consideration.

A UQ spokesperson told The Bursar, “The University is continuing to consult with staff and the union about cleaning services at Gatton, which are currently provided by a combination of contractors and staff.”

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By Charlie
Charlie Writes is a Sydney based, London born, Caribbean writer, interviewer and poet. A colourful 27 year career has taken Charlie from typing poems on the spot on her 1970’s typerwiter named June, to donning a hard hat as a roving reporter in the construction industry. All while living out her favourite quote that the greatest adventures begin with a simple conversation.