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If you’re a regular reader of my Leaders you’ll be aware that I’ll occasionally have a ‘what a great idea!’ moment. The most recent occurred last week when I received a press release regarding the British Cleaning Council’s latest initiative, to issue a ‘badge of honour’ to cleaning staff. If you missed it, you can see the news in our side column. Yes, the perception of cleaning has changed over the past two years but the idea that one day, everyone in the industry might be proudly sporting the 'We Clean, We Care' badge, (and, looking ahead, in different languages depending upon where in the world we happen to be providing our services) with companies displaying the logo on websites, marketing materials and social media, just draws us all together and underlines the importance of what we do and why we do it.
Yes, cleaning may be a role that hadn't been at the top of the list when we were considering careers, but the measures in place these days - along with the consequences of not following them correctly - mean we have to care! While if an airline pilot makes a fatal error, the consequences may be immediately devastating for all those involved along with family, friends, colleagues etc., an error made by a cleaner can have far greater-reaching consequences in terms of the global spread of infection without us ever being aware of their involvement. Sadly, it's taken the pandemic to convince everyone of what those in our industry have known all along. The role of the cleaner is one of the most important there is!
Over the years I've occasionally been asked why I refer to these crucial workers as cleaners, instead of cleaning operatives. Rather than being disrespectful of cleaners by not acknowledging the 'upgrade', I felt at the time the idea was first mooted, (I believe in the early 90s) that it was an attempt to raise the status of those carrying out what many considered to be menial tasks and that view has never changed. It didn't just happen in our industry and it led to some ribbing for workers whose titles sounded quite ridiculous. I've never considered cleaning to be a menial task but something that requires thorough training if you're to do it properly. If I'd had my way back then, I'd have persuaded the powers that be to call our cleaners 'cleaning technicians'. I think it's far more appropriate, bearing in mind the skill involved if the job's to be done well. Your thoughts please?
BCC Chairman highlights sector staff shortages on Radio 4's Today programme To listen, visit:
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31st March 2022