A cleaner claims he has had to dip into savings to feed his children after not receiving his full pay from transtasman contracting giant Spotless.

The man said he is now more than $300 behind in payments to Housing New Zealand and has had to borrow money to feed his young family. He couldn't even afford milk powder for his baby.

"I save money for the kids, but it's sad, I had to use it to pay overheads. My kids are suffering," said the man, who asked not to be named.

He is a member of the E Tu union, which says Spotless' new pay system, introduced late last year, is the "Novopay of the contract cleaning industry".


Thousands of school staff suffered pay problems from the Novopay system.

Spotless, which employs 30,000 people in Australia and 9000 in New Zealand, this evening acknowledged problems in its pay system, but said the majority had been fixed.

E Tu cleaning industry co-ordinator Jill Ovens said pay issues were systemic among cleaning contractors and Spotless was particularly bad.

Thousands of workers were affected. Members had made complaints of underpayment, incorrect holiday pay, no pay at all in some weeks, as well as not getting pay slips which made it hard to prove where the problem lay.

At the Southern Cross Campus school in Mangere, seven cleaners claimed pay arrears in February of about 300 hours and the issue had not been resolved.

The union had waited for Spotless to resolve its payroll problems, Ms Ovens said.

"We're now into May and the problem seems to be escalating. The latest is we've been told hospital cleaners and kitchen workers aren't going to get their pay rise and back-pay which goes back to last October, until the end of May, at the earliest."

She said the Spotless software system for staff to clock on and off work was also troubled.

"It doesn't seem to recognise Pacific Island voices or if someone has a cold, and when that happens, people can't get into the payroll system to be paid."

Spotless said its new payroll software had caused short-term discrepancies in the payment of some staff.

"We have proactively managed this transition, and are confident that the majority of issues have been resolved."

"Every week Spotless processes over 5000 pays for our staff in New Zealand. We take our responsibility to remunerate each individual employee accurately and on time very seriously."

Part of the new system was a "voice automation time clock system", which worked with all cultures and languages. Errors were usually linked to training rather than system failures.

"We have corrective mechanisms in place to deal with any issues swiftly, through direct line management and Spotless payroll."