Prime Minister Tony Abbott's cleaners set for wage negotiations

Luzia Borges has been cleaning the prime minister's office since the days when Tony Abbott was voting Labor. 

The grandmother from Angola and her 41 fellow cleaners on $21.17 an hour at Parliament House head into bargaining negotiations on Monday.

They seek an extra 85 cents an hour. 

Ms Borges would already have the extra money if the Abbott government had not scrapped a set of guidelines governing workers in her sector earlier this year but she has only good words for the prime minister. 

"(Mr Abbott) really appreciates our work," said Ms Borges, who has served six prime ministers.


"It was good he acknowledged the cleaners in his speech to Parliament (last week).

"We are on the bottom of the pile."

Ms Borges said all prime ministers she has worked for respected the cleaners and the first was Bob Hawke 26 years ago. 

To give an idea of how dramatically politics can change in less than three decades, she started working at Parliament about the same time Mr Abbott voted for Labor in the NSW state election for one of the extremely rare occasions in his life. 

A week ago parliament's cleaners sent a Christmas card to the people who work in the building - politicians included - which said: "We're approaching Christmas with some anxiety about what 2015 will hold for us and our families." 

The cleaners' Christmas wish list set out in the card included "more cleaners" and "our first pay rise since 2012".

There are 42 cleaners keeping parliament's 4700 rooms and other common spaces clean and there were  more than 100 when the building first opened, the United Voice union said. 

Parliament's cleaners work for an outsourced company, Limro Cleaning Services, and will be represented in negotiations by the United Voice union. 

The union is calling the proposed pay rise a "catch up" increase because it should have come into force  six months ago. 

The increase failed to come through because the Commonwealth Cleaning Guidelines were scrapped during the first round of the Abbott government's war on red tape. 

The government said the guidelines created different requirements for companies tendering for Commonwealth work to those servicing the private sector

United Voice spokeswoman Lyndal Ryan said the cleaners may have to wait four years to  receive an increase. 

"The prime minister and Senator Abetz said no cleaner would be worse off as a result of their decision to tear up the Commonwealth Cleaning Guidelines but now cleaners at Parliament House are being denied a scheduled pay rise and are facing a prolonged wage freeze," Ms Ryan said. 

Mr Abbott thanked Ms Borges and her colleagues for ensuring that "every morning our offices are bright, sparkling and welcoming" in his speech to parliament to round out the year on December 4.