Airbnb moves to clean up exploitation

Airbnb has announced a partnership with hospitality workers’ union United Voice to promote cleaning companies championing fair pay and conditions.

The homeshare giant and trade union, not generally considered natural bedfellows, have joined forces to promote a socially responsible approach to cleaning which will be rolled out nationwide if its Canberra pilot proves successful.

Former foreign minister Bob Carr, an Airbnb tourism advisory board member, said the pilot ensured Australian workers would “get good jobs and fair wages”.

“More broadly, the partnership repudiates the idea that technology and labour must be at loggerheads,” he said. “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.”

[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”15046″ align=”left”]Airbnb will promote 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 set workplace protections.

The platform’s head of public policy for Australia and New Zealand, Brent Thomas, said the four-month Canberra pilot will see Airbnb promoting a social enterprise called Harmony Cleaning to local hosts.

Harmony Cleaning is owned by workers and dedicated to providing high quality home cleaning jobs for refugees and migrants with award wages and conditions.

Hospitality has an unenviable reputation for exploiting migrants who seek jobs such as housekeeping roles and back-of-house kitchen duties. 

Jo-anne Schofield, United Voice national secretary, told Fairfax Media the cleaning pilot was a new concept in Australia.

“This is about building sustainable jobs into the new economy,” she said.

“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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