SkyCity failed cleaners: ERA

SkyCity breached collective agreement; move to contract out cleaning effectively blocked.

SkyCity Auckland [NZX: SKC] did not act as a fair and reasonable employer after it provided little training for its cleaners and then decided to contract out the services because cleaning was not up to scratch, the Employment Relations Authority found.

Two unions representing SkyCity employees, The Service and Food Workers Union and Unite, have won the backing of ERA, which effectively blocks the move to contract out.

SkyCity had adopted a “laissez faire approach” to its cleaning which meant cleaners were not receiving promised training and other opportunities, ERA member James Crichton said in his judgment.

Team meetings had stopped and cleaners were not made aware their cleaning was not up to scratch before SkyCity did a review and decided to contract out services. This breached a collective agreement between the company and the unions to train staff to their full potential, the authority decided.

"By failing to engage with its own people, by failing to have properly trained and skilled managers and supervisors in the area, by failing to invest in training whether in-house or outsourced, by failing to engage appropriately with its people in terms of team meetings and the like, SkyCity effectively ensured that the outcome of its review would be the conclusion that the present system was not working and needed to be changed,” Mr Crichton said.

Unite spokesman Tom Buckley says that while the company is not stopped from outsourcing in future, a higher barrier has been set and the company held to account.

A SkyCity spokeswoman says the company is still reviewing ERA's decision. "SkyCity will take the same considered approach to determining next steps that we have taken with the cleaning services business review and consultation process thus far.”