* Cleanzine_logo_3a.jpgCleanzine: your weekly cleaning and hygiene industry newsletter 21st September 2023 Issue no. 1081

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You’ll already be aware of my feelings about cleaners: doing a job most of us wouldn’t want to do… often working in difficult conditions… ignored, as they go about their work, by the people they’re helping to keep safe… lives made more difficult by the careless or those who deliberately leave an unnecessary mess for them to tackle: “Well – it keeps them in work” (yes I’ve had people tell me that!)… sometimes verbally abused or even physically attacked, just because they’re cleaners and they’re probably working alone and are thus vulnerable. 
While I realise there’s been a move towards daytime cleaning over the years, it’s not viable in every situation and most contracts still require shift work and night work if the job’s going to be done properly, so that’s another issue cleaners have to contend with. I understand that in some cases it’s helpful for people to be able to work unusual hours – for example, a shift can fit around studies and provide much-needed income, (as both my daughters discovered, cleaning offices while at college) or enable families with young children to ensure that at least one parent’s at home with the children at all times. Plus there’s the bonus of being able to avoid rush hour traffic on the commute to and from the workplace/s. But it’s certainly not all plain sailing, since sometimes the job involves working throughout the night and having to try and catch up on sleep during the day when the surrounding world’s making a horrible noise. And that’s not the only issue… 
I’ve been reading a document this week that really brought home to me the damage that shift work can wreak on cleaners’ lives. The international survey of cleaners encompasses the feelings and experiences of cleaners across six continents, highlighting the detrimental effects night-time work has on their lives. The full details follow and there’s a link to the full survey, which I recommend that you read. 
As I was reading, it occurred to me that it would be handy to share the document with clients when negotiating contracts and pushing for cleaners to earn a living wage rather than a basic legal minimum on which they’ll struggle – and to encourage those that can, to consider a move to daytime cleaning. Revealing real issues such as isolation, difficulties in maintaining relationships, strained social lives, poor sleep, exhaustion and the many adverse impacts on physical and mental health, it might also help show that these are real people whose lives and jobs are under consideration, and not just ‘cleaners’.




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Jan Hobbs

15th June 2023

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