Airbnb partners with United Voice to support fair wages and good jobs for cleaners

As part of Airbnb’s Economic Empowerment Agenda, we want to support fair wages for the men and women who provide quality, professional cleaning services.

It is why Airbnb has partnered with United Voice – the union that supports cleaning workers – and Harmony Community Cleaning – a new cleaning company established with the support and advice of United Voice. The aim of the company is support good jobs and fair wages in the domestic cleaning sector.

Under the landmark partnership, Airbnb will promote to its hosts socially responsible home cleaning services that meet minimum labour standards, including a safe work environment, the protection of a collective agreement that provides for certification and training, and strong workplace protections.

The first cleaning partner promoted as a pilot program will be the Canberra-based social-enterprise Harmony Community Cleaning, a worker-owned cleaning company dedicated to providing high quality home cleaning services. Harmony Community Cleaning is an initiative of the Canberra Karen Community and United Voice and provides jobs for refugees and migrants with award wages and conditions.

Jirayu ‘Jimmy’ Maneesirawong, a Karen community elder and member of the new cleaning company said:

To us, cleaning jobs have become the biggest part of our life in Australia. It is the main source of income that supports our day to day family needs and we love our cleaning role. Due to the devastating experience with our ex-employer, we as a community came together and discussed that we wanted to form a company that we could all come together and work in harmony. We have the aim to create a company that will treat all their workers fairly and can deliver the best cleaning experience to their customers.

Professor the Hon Bob Carr, Airbnb Tourism Advisory Board Member said:

At the core of this landmark partnership is ensuring Australian workers get good jobs and fair wages. More broadly, the partnership is a repudiation of the flawed notion that technology and business and labour are fundamentally at loggerheads. The fact is that innovation doesn’t need to come at the expense of workers or the fair go. This is what socially responsible, 21st century companies do.

Brent Thomas, Airbnb’s Head of Public Policy for Australia and New Zealand, said:

Airbnb is committed to ensuring the men and women who provide quality, professional cleaning services are paid fairly. In that spirit, we’re working with Harmony Community Cleaning because they’re known for delivering great service and providing their employees with extensive training, fair wages, and a safe and supportive working environment. We look forward to continuing to work with the labour movement on creating even more economic empowerment opportunities for Australians and local communities.

Jo-anne Schofield, United Voice’s National Secretary said:

This is about cleaning with purpose. The cleaning pilot has created something that just hasn’t existed until today. We are thrilled to see Harmony Cleaning Company continue to develop as a for-purpose company with secure jobs and pay. Too often the cleaning industry has been shown to be incapable of cleaning up after itself, stories of wage theft and unethical behaviour are all too common. The Karen community’s collective shows there can be a way forward for the sector. This is about building sustainable jobs into the new economy. Hosts who support the pilot will know that their cleaners are being paid the correct rate and that they are supporting an ethical cleaning collective. The pilot program brings both dignity and a professional, properly paid workforce into rented properties.

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