Windscreen wash law made clear
WINDSCREEN washers on Canning Highway in Como are again under siege by local police with numerous $50 fines and move-on notices issued last week.
Belmont and Kensington Police have been targeting windscreen washers for the past 12 months after receiving reports of assaults on motorists and police, graffiti, vandalism and litter in the areas they operate.
The windscreen washers claim they are being “treated like prostitutes” by police and are only trying to earn an honest living.
Chris is 25-years-old and has been washing windscreens for nine years in between his other job as a supervisor in a welding company.
“We are just out earning money and we are working like everyone else, it is a job like any other job and when we do it we hold our heads high,” he said.
“We get sick of being described as “animals or scum” in the media, we treat this like a nine to five job and treat the motorists with respect, because they are our customers.”
Chris says he can make up to $150 a day but it depends on how long he is there.
“Sometimes we are here for only a few hours and may make a lot less than that or sometimes we are here all day and make more, but if we stay here that long we deserve the money,” he said.
When asked what he thinks about police claims they are engaged in illegal activity, Chris was quick to respond.
“We’re not breaking into hous- es and the long-term washers treat the job seriously. It is the younger ones who draw the attention of the cops, kicking and scratching cars and abusing old people, but none of us do that, we treat all our customers with respect, especially the elderly,” he said.
Chris said he used the money he earned to buy the necessities.
“When we are short of money the missus tells me to go out and earn and I use the money I make to pay rent, buy food and sometimes a couple of coldies if I am lucky,” he said.
Chris’ fellow windscreen washer 31-year-old Craig said people should not criticise them.
“It is a healthy, clean job and windscreen washing helps people who are unemployed – the government tells you to get a job and here we are working,” he said.
“The police should not be fining us, it is totally unfair.”
The Southern Gazette surveyed motorists at the Canning Highway intersection last Thursday with most motorists saying that they thought the police fines were unfair.
“God love ‘em!” said Julie from St James. “I think they do a pretty good job and they are doing a service. If I have a dirty windscreen that needs a clean, I will gladly give them a few bucks. The police shouldn’t be fining them.”
Daniel from Success said he drove past the intersection every day and believed the washers should be left alone.
“They are just doing what they have got to do – they are just trying to earn a dollar,” he said.
But Dillon from Belmont said the police had every right to target the windscreen washers and they deserved everything they got.
“They can earn $200 a day for doing nothing when I have to work hard for a living,” he said.
“They spend all their money on drugs and everyone knows it.”
Sheldon from Inglewood said while he did not think the fines were fair, he did have concerns sometimes about the washer’s safety.
“It depends what the individual washer is like and if they are watching the traffic lights, I do get a bit worried sometimes,” he said.
“Overall though I think they are OK, they are just trying to make a bit of extra money and good on them I say.”
Kensington Police Officer in charge Ashley Goy said both windscreen washers and the motorists who used their services were breaking the law.
“It is an offence under the Road Traffic Regulations and we are requesting motorists not to use their services,” he said.
“Apart from complaints regarding violence, litter and vandalism, our main worry is that it is a matter of time before a windscreen washer is involved in a serious accident.”