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29 June 2014 | Will Green
The New Zealand government has ended a requirement whereby firms bidding to provide cleaning services have to be members of an industrial body to work with government.
The requirement to join the Building Services Contractors of New Zealand (BSC) was introduced in 2008 as part of efforts to improve working conditions.
Labour minister Simon Bridges said: “The change means suppliers of cleaning services will no longer be required to join and pay for membership to the industry association to contract with government. Instead, the government will be able to contract with all suitable suppliers of cleaning services and award contracts on the merit of tenders.”
Bridges said findings from the consultation showed the requirement “has several negative implications, including that it acts as a barrier to some providers, and it is inconsistent with international and domestic procurement best practice”.
He added: “While the requirement was intended to help improve conditions of workers in the cleaning industry, few, if any, benefits have been achieved.”
But the BSC disagreed about the benefits achieved and said the government’s decision could lead to lower wages for cleaners.
BSC president Patrick Lee-Lo said: “Since 2008 staff working on cleaning contracts for government buildings all over New Zealand have been assured of fair pay, fair working conditions and reasonable hours. That has been of significant benefit to cleaners.
“This decision leaves the doors open for those who pay their staff the minimum wage to put forward cheaper tenders for government work.”