A United Voice campaign focused on improving working conditions for hotel housekeepers continues to gain media traction. The 23 February Sydney Morning Herald news story highlighted time allocated to do hygiene tasks as well as the tools provided to housekeepers.
‘Hotel cleaners are taking hygiene shortcuts to meet deadlines to fix rooms in 15 minutes, for work that takes about 45 minutes to do properly, the union representing many of the industry’s workers says,’ stated the SMH report written by Caroline Zielinski and Clay Lucas.
‘Cleaners have also raised concerns that used cloths are being pressed into service to clean glasses in the whirlwind schedule.’
The SMH copy quoted a former hotel cleaner, “[Cleaners] use hand towels and face towels to clean the glasses for drinking. Or they go to the toilet bowl, and then go to the next room and touch the glass. The hotel just doesn’t give you a clean cloth for every room.”
According to the SMH, an instruction sheet released by a national housekeeping contractor details 22 separate steps to a well-cleaned room – including stripping the bed, cleaning the bathroom and cleaning all glass surfaces.
United Voice’s Jess Walsh believes it takes 45 minutes for a cleaner to properly maintain a hotel room. But, she noted, ‘hotel bosses’ were demanding the job be done in as little as 15 minutes.
Walsh explained that most hotel room attendants are lucky to make $450 a week with many working unpaid overtime to get their jobs done properly. “These missing wages could add $10,000 a year to their income,” she is quoted as saying.
The SMH journalists spoke with Accommodation Association of Australia CEO Richard Munro who said that most hotels gave cleaners enough time to do rooms properly.
“First and foremost the product has to be first rate, so we as an industry don’t compromise standards. Consumers will tell [hotels] very quickly if their product is not up to speed. If someone is not giving cleaners enough time to clean their rooms, their consumers will tell them.”
And, Tourism Accommodation Australia managing director Rodger Powell, said that, in many cases, 15 minutes would be ample time to clean a room well.