Demand cleaning company ISS Property Services PTY Ltd to respect employees' working rights

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I am Laura, a 55-year-old Chilean, unjustly dismissed from my cleaning job by ISS Property Services PTY Limited, right after I had an injury caused during work. Even though I gained Australian citizenship, my limited English skills are a barrier for me to be heard and have my working rights respected by this company (a friend is helping me translate this message). 

I feel discriminated, powerless, and with no voice against this worldwide corporation.  At 55 years, I should not be enduring these conditions, with no home on my own and no proper income to live my life with dignity. 

 Let me tell you my story, and please sign this petition.

I was working with this company since 2011. I decided to join ISS Property Services PTY Limited, providing cleaning services in many schools in Sydney, because having a job dignifies me. It is important for me to be able to sustain myself. 

 On 11 December 2015, I seriously injured my right wrist when trying to lift a very heavy rubbish bag. ISS Property Services PTY Limited took six months to recognize my injury, they accepted liability on 19 July 2016, and only then they allowed me to have “lighter tasks”.

 I decided to visit my GP, who referred me to Dr Mark Rider, who ran a MRI and diagnosed me with a Triangular Fibrocartilage complex injury and a cubital tunnel syndrome. He applied a steroid injection and requested a couple of physiotherapy sessions. I saw no improvement, my pain continued. 

The decision of allowing me to have ¨lighter tasks¨ lasted less than two months, and from September 2016 to February 2017, I was assigned to another school, where I had to clean more than 800 tables with my “good” hand. I endured a lot of pain, yet I was content to have a job.  

On 8 February 2017 Daniel Wood (Self Insurance Company Manager)  referred me to orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Paul Hitchen to have a physical examination.

Then on the 22 of February 2017 I received a letter from ISS Property Services PTY Limited stating they could no longer give me a job because “they did not have a safe working environment according to my medical restrictions and their operational requirements.”

Shortly after I took a short leave to go back home to visit my children and grandchild, and also to see a doctor I understood. I bought the tickets in November 2016, as I had no idea I was going to be fired in February. The doctor in Chile told me what I feared the most: my hand was damaged forever. What I had, indeed, was just a tear of the ligament in my R wrist, but since I did not have enough physiotherapy sessions, it became chronic. I have to endure this pain in my right hand for the rest of my life.  

My life became hell. I could not support myself and had to ask for a kind friend to host me. I had to fight with Centrelink for 3 months for my right to get unemployment benefits, because they could not recognize my unemployment status, since ISS Property Services PTY Limited account showed me as “suspended” and not as “dismissed”. Finally, in October 2017 Centrelink accepted my status as "dismissed". 

 Yet this is not enough for me to live, and I do not feel good to be in government assistance. I need to work. I deserve to work.

 But there´s more to add to these grievances. When trying to get certification to do my tax return, ISS Property Services PTY Limited never responded. Later on, together with my accountant, we found out that they never paid my taxes!

 I was stood down because of my condition and without any compensation. I want to be justly compensated for all the damages they caused. 

 The damages ISS Property Services PTY Limited have caused me go beyond my wrist injury. I am unable to sleep, thinking how I can go by another day without a job. I am stressed, depressed, and alone. I am that kind of migrant they think can take advantage of, because I do not speak English well and have no one here, since all my family is in Chile. 

While this situation has clearly impacted my physical and mental health, it has also had a huge effect on my family and my community in Sydney. 

This has impacted my family because they feel powerless and unable to help me overcome this issue. They have always seen me thrive at work, recognising I am an independent woman, able to provide for herself. They do not have the financial capability to support me, so this situation has put a strain on all of us. 

Being fired for getting injured at work, with no compensation, has also had a negative effect on my community in Sydney. It proves the point that as an "foreigner/outsider", your human rights are more prone to be violated. This condition of vulnerability gives me and my community the understanding that in Australia, despite the rhetoric on multiculturalism, we are and always will be second-class citizens, not supported and empowered enough to make sure our working rights are respected. 

At this age, I wish none goes through the anxiety and pain I am going through. 

I want to raise my voice for myself and for many others who have been exploited by cleaning companies like ISS Property Services PTY Limited and have had their working rights violated. We, cleaners, also deserve working with dignity. 

 I want to ask you to sign this petition and share it with your friends, to open the conversation about the working conditions people like I endure. We need to put a face to this problem (companies taking advantage of vulnerable employees) and this is why I am willing to share my pain with you. 

Please help me spread the message. 



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