MELBOURNE, Aug 11 - A recent United Voice survey of 300 state school cleaning contractors found 81 per cent of them were getting paid below the award wage, with one woman paid just $2.60 an hour, cash-in-hand, for her first week of work.

Under the current system, hundreds of contractors were operating nearly 1800 contracts.

A new model will see eight zones created across metropolitan Melbourne and a single cleaning contract will be awarded for all schools in each zone.

The zone model will also be rolled out in regional Victoria.

The Department of Education and Training will issue an open tender to appoint cleaning companies.

Successful operators will then have to recruit from the current government school cleaning workforce.

"This new model will ensure schools get high quality cleaning services, principals are better supported to look after their schools and cleaners are treated fairly," Education Minister James Merlino said in a statement.