Mr Abbott addressed Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's response to a letter sent to him regarding spying allegations. (AAP Image/David Crosling)
Mr Abbott addressed Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's response to a letter sent to him regarding spying allegations. (AAP Image/David Crosling) AAP - David Crosling

Tony Abbott comes clean on alleged pay cuts

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott says his government has done nothing to reduce the pay of any cleaners, despite a protest at parliament house against a potential $172 cut to government office cleaners on Monday.

Mr Abbott faced a series of questions about the government's changes to guidelines for employing cleaners at government offices including Parliament House.

But he defended the changes, saying the government "has not reduced the pay of any cleaner", saying they were still entitled to "the award wage or anything above it".

The changes, union United Voice said, would see more than 1000 government office cleaners in Canberra and in capital cities take a $172 a week pay cut.

It will remove 4% pay rises for the cleaners for the next three years - essentially returning cleaners' pay rates to the award wage - and allows future cleaning contractors not to comply with the guidelines.

The decision was a key one which prompted the union to award Mr Abbott on Monday its "2014 Golden Toilet Brush Award", which it labelled a "gong of shame".

Union national vice-president Lyndal Ryan said cleaners were "bitterly disappointed" to be giving the "award" to Mr Abbott, but the government was leaving the cleaners behind.

But Employment Minister Senator Eric Abetz said the guidelines only applied to 20 contractors and were "inconsistent" as they did not apply to all Federal Government offices or all building contracts.

The tongue-in-cheek award is given by the union on International Cleaners Day to a "company or organisation that has done least to give cleaners a fair go".



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