June 13, 2024


Waste workers at Cleanaway have won 23 percent pay increases and weekend protections in the first-ever intractable bargaining decision since new laws were enacted last year.

The Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) delivered the decision for the Erskine Park commercial waste site yesterday afternoon after the case was brought by the TWU in December. The decision delivers overtime and weekend penalty rate protections and wage increases, including back pay.

Cleanaway attempted to implement a 7-day rostering system and reduce pay and conditions for workers at sites nationwide. Over 20 months of bargaining, there have been six instances of protected industrial action at the Erskine Park site. Additionally, extensive protected industrial action has taken place across the City of Sydney, NSW and the rest of the country.

As the intractable bargaining case opened, Cleanaway took all previously agreed terms off the table, erasing 13 months of negotiations.

Prior to the case, Cleanaway refused to provide back pay, meaning workers would have received no increases for 2022 or 2023 despite record inflation and cost of living increases. Cleanaway made an underlying net profit of $148.6 million in FY23 and $145 million in FY22.

The FWC’s decision includes a substantial 15 percent increase in wages from 1 September 2022 to 1 September 2024, and a 23 percent increase over the life of the agreement, which expires on 30 June 2027.

TWU NSW/QLD State Secretary Richard Olsen said the precedent-setting outcome highlighted the determination of the workers to improve their wages and conditions.

“This is a fantastic outcome for workers who have held strong over two years of attacks from Cleanaway. Time and time again, Cleanaway has tried to undercut the working conditions of waste workers around NSW and across the country.”

“This case is a reminder of just how low the company will continue to stoop in the name of profits over people. TWU members held strong throughout negotiations, six protected industrial actions, and took the matter all the way to the Fair Work Commission. This is a well-deserved victory for the workers who keep our communities clean.”

“It’s time for Cleanaway to stop undermining their workers at every turn and come to the table to work with the TWU on improving industry standards. They tried and failed to ram through worsening conditions but the game is up. Working conditions must improve, not go backwards.”


  • An intractable bargaining workplace determination allows the FWC to arbitrate if parties have been unable to reach an enterprise agreement deal after at least nine months of negotiations.
  • This can only occur if there is no reasonable prospect of an agreement being reached and if it is reasonable in all circumstances for the commission to intervene.
  • This provision came into effect on 6 June 2023 as part of the Secure Jobs Better Pay Act passed by the federal Labor government.
  • In May, Cleanaway was also fined $45,000 for not complying with FWC directives after the company failed to provide required employee lists and declarations within deadlines. This resulted in delays to protected action ballots and directly impeded TWU members’ ability to engage in protected industrial action at the Erskine Park site.

MEDIA CONTACT: Adam Jacobson – 0405 625 208 / adam.jacobson@twunsw.org.au


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