Cleaners of government buildings will be spared a 20 per cent pay cut after the Abbott government backed down on an element of its red tape bonfire.
On Thursday, the government agreed to retain guidelines that ensure government cleaners get paid a minimum $22.02 an hour.
The base private sector wage for cleaners is $17.49 - a rate the union United Voice describes as ''poverty level'', more than $170 less a week.
The guidelines, which protect thousands of cleaners, put upward pressure on the rate that private contractors will pay, the union said.
The government agreed to a Labor amendment to the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2014 to retain the guidelines.
David O'Byrne, acting national secretary of United Voice said: ''Cleaners were appalled when the government announced … the Commonwealth Cleaning Services Guidelines were included in the almost 10,000 regulations the government was repealing because they were allegedly counter-productive.
''The guidelines ensure companies that provide cleaning services for the Government must ensure their cleaners are properly paid.''