SIPTU members in the contract cleaning industry have welcomed a new pay agreement of more than 10% over three years. The pay deal follows agreement on a newly amended Employment Regulation Order (ERO)) for the sector which was negotiated over recent months between SIPTU shop stewards and officials and employer representatives within the Joint Labour Committee structure (JLC). The ERO will benefit up to 30,000 contract cleaners and provides for three pay increases. A new hourly rate of €10.05 is to be introduced later this year while further increases in December 2017 and December 2018 when rates will go up to €10.40 and €10.80 per hour, respectively. This represents an overall pay increase of 10.77% It also provides that from 27th October last, the date the Order was signed by the Minister for Employment and Small Business, Pat Breen, deductions/charges for uniforms shall cease for all existing employees, and an initial one off charge of €15.00 will apply for new entrants.Welcoming the Order, SIPTU Services Division Organiser, Ethel Buckley said:“The pay increases are in excess of  10% over the 3-year agreement. Cleaners will no longer be charged on a rolling basis for uniforms which meant they were forced to essentially rent them off their employers. Other provisions significantly improve the terms and conditions for workers, such as advance notice of rosters, notice and arrangements for the transfer of client contracts from one contractor to another.  This is an industry that has been traditionally characterised by low pay and precarious working conditions but the provisions set out in this ERO will go some way towards improving employment standards for cleaners.”   Negotiations with employers for the new ERO at the Joint Labour Committee were led by SIPTU Sector Organiser, Diane Jackson, who said: “Cleaners carry out a vital role in our society. They ensure our hospitals, schools and workplaces are cleaned to a high standard. It is a difficult job and cleaners experience much pressure with increased workloads. They deserve to have their work valued. This is a good day for contract cleaners and demonstrates the power of low paid private sector service workers when they join together and bargain collectively through their union.”