Students, staff demand pay rise for cleaners Baptist University was blatantly exploiting the poor by underpaying its cleaning staff, a protest rally was told yesterday. About 20 students and staff protested on campus for an immediate pay rise for cleaning workers. They demanded that pay for the 50-plus cleaners be raised from $3,800 to $5,030, the minimum for cleaners set by the government earlier this year. Their pay is now 40 per cent lower than that offered by other universities. They work nine hours a day, six days a week. The university has promised to raise their wages to $5,030 in July when it puts its cleaning services up for tender. Fred Chiu, an associate professor in sociology and elected staff representative to the university council, accused the university of misusing funding. 'It has spent money on unnecessary extravagances,' said Dr Chiu, referring to the recent renovation of a campus entrance at a cost of $4 million. 'Beneath its polished image there is blatant exploitation of the poor.' HKBU Student Union president Chan Kai-chun said there was no reason the university should not make an immediate adjustment. 'As a university advocating Christianity, it should never have allowed such exploitation of cleaners to happen in the first place,' Mr Chan said. 'We are so ashamed of its hypocrisy.' The student union is planning to raise $500,000 with the university's Faculty and Staff Union to pay the cleaners before Christmas if the university declines to raise their wages immediately. 'As the end of the year approaches, poor families will be in dire need of money,' Mr Chan said. 'Even if the university does nothing to help them, we will take the responsibility.' One cleaner at the university said: 'Transport alone costs me $300 a month and rent more than $2,500.' A university spokesman said the $4 million grant was made especially for campus maintenance. 'We did not use any of the university's recurrent grants on the entrance's renovation,' he said.