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Spotless is an Australian-owned, managed and operated integrated services company providing cleaning, catering, laundry services, facilities management and non-core business support to Australia and New Zealand markets.
The company employs more than 47,000 people and provides services to private and public sector clients within health; education; leisure, sports and entertainment; defence; government; business and industry; resources; and laundries.
In August 2012, Spotless was acquired by Australia’s largest and most active private equity player, Pacific Equity Partners (PEP). The firm sold off Spotless’ international operations, delisted the company from the Australian and New Zealand stock exchanges and commenced operating as a private entity.
Under the new ownership, Bruce Dixon was appointed as CEO and restructured the business to ensure customers’ interests were put first and foremost. This involved tailoring the organisations’ services to market sectors ensuring clients could have one Spotless management contact. Dixon’s new direction for Spotless also included open communication and pushing decision making and responsibility down into the business. As a result no industrial relations disputes have taken place since PEP’s takeover with the new approach empowering employees across the business’ entire operations.
Spotless Group could be returning to the stock exchange as early as 2014 in an initial public offering worth $1.5 billion to $2 billion. It would be a remarkably quick turnaround for private equity owners Pacific Equity Partners, who took the company private for $723 million in August last year. Sources close to the company said earnings improved substantially over the past year.
On September 2, 2013, the local organising committee of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, which will be hosted by New Zealand and Australia, appointed a joint venture of Nine Live and Spotless Group to provide hospitality services for the tournament. The services include sales, marketing and event management of the tournament’s hospitality program.
Spotless has become the focus of a high-profile industrial relations test case in Australia after claims of bullying and harassment surrounding Spotless’ use of individual flexible agreements (IFAs), were raised by members of United Voice. United Voice is the union that represents contract cleaners employed by Spotless at shopping centres, CBD buildings and other privately and publicly owned buildings.
The case will be heard by the Federal Court of Australia, where United Voice will argue that Spotless is in breach of the Fair Work Act as it leaves cleaners worse off than they would be without the IFAs.
United Voice will also tell Fair Work Australia and the Federal Court that cleaners have reported that they have been unduly pressured into signing the agreements and were allegedly told if they refuse to sign the IFAs they were warned that their hours would be cut or that they would be refused overtime hours which they have enjoyed under the Cleaning Services Award.
United Voice will also claim Spotless misrepresented the IFAs to its workers. The Union says Spotless' use of IFAs in these circumstances is contrary to the spirit and intent of the Individual Flexibility provisions under the Fair Work Act and that Spotless are trying to re-introduce WorkChoices AWAs by the back door.
The case was due to go to before Fair Work Australia on the 18th of April, however, Spotless did not attend the voluntary mediation.
In April 2012, Spotless agreed to audit a representative group of cleaners’ employment records to ensure they were paid properly and receiving their full entitlements.
The Fair Work Ombudsman welcomed Spotless’ decision to sign a Pro-Active Compliance Deed and congratulated them on their demonstration of corporate responsibility.
Spotless will provide a report on the findings from their audit to the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Spotless and United Voice now have a professional relationship based on a much better understanding of each other's respective positions.