Eric Abetz was booed and Joe Hockey labelled a “hopeless blowhard” but cleaners reserved their gong of shame for Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
For international cleaners day on Monday, union United Voice awarded its Golden Toilet Brush to the prime minister as the person who had done the least to give cleaners a fair go.
He didn’t collect the two-metre high award personally.
But it was out the front of Parliament House in Canberra where 150 cleaners, unionists and Labor MPs gathered to protest over the government dumping guidelines for commonwealth contract cleaners as part of its war on red tape.
“This means a pay cut of $200 a week and a loss of job security,” said cleaner Chris Wagland, who has worked in federal government buildings for 30 years.
“How dare I think that because I do a dirty job that I deserve better than shitty wages?”
Employment Minister Eric Abetz says the guidelines only applied to a few cleaners in some government buildings.
“These ad hoc arrangements created by Labor at the behest of the union bosses create confusing and cumbersome red tape for suppliers,” he said in a statement.
United Voice acting national secretary David O’Byrne said there was no confusion about decent jobs and pay.
“We are not confused about your motivations, Senator Abetz, and this appalling government,” he told the rally.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said parliament couldn’t function without its cleaners.
“This rotten prime minister and this hopeless blowhard treasurer Joe Hockey … they do not respect the work of ordinary Australians,” he said.
Mr Abbott later told parliament that no cleaners would find their pay cut because of the government’s actions.
“No cleaner in this country can be employed at other than the award or above,” he said.
“The Leader of the Opposition should not go around this country scaring people.”