Housekeepers campaign boosts union action, negotiations for improved working conditions in Africa
With the support of the IUF and the impulse provided by the Global Action Week, IUF affiliates in Africa are organizing, strengthening their demands on employers and negotiating improved working conditions for housekeepers.
In South Africa, SACCAWU has negotiated lighter duties for women housekeepers during pregnancy and for four months after returning from maternity leave at some hotels, as well as weekly checkups for housekeepers by a doctor and nurse on site. Through protracted battles with Sun International South Africa, the union has won an agreement to shift outsourced housekeepers onto direct, permanent employment. Union shop stewards are monitoring and pushing the implementation.
In Zambia, the Hotel, Catering, Tourism and Allied Workers Union of Zambia (HCTAWUZ), is demanding that management at the Zambezi Sun International in Livingston double the number of housekeepers per room from one to two, and is preparing to expand the demand through negotiations with other hotels.
In Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Catering and Hotel workers Union (ZCHWU), has launched a series of initiatives in Harare and Victoria Falls to identify problems and prepare for negotiations to improve the situation of housekeepers. Issues identified by the union include the weight of the beds, chemical hazards and the hazards of dust from carpets and sexual harassment by guests. This has helped the union raise awareness of the specific issues confronting housekeepers and to negotiate solutions. In some establishments, mechanisms have been put in place to address sexual harassment. The union is also preparing proposals to end the casual employment of housekeepers.
In Ghana, the Industrial & Commercial Workers' Union (ICU), using the Activity Body Mapping exercise, IUF Recommendations on Good Health and Safety Practices in the Housekeeping Sector, along with ICU's OSH presentations, organized a training at three of its premier locals- Novotel Hotel, Holiday Inn Accra Airport Hotel and Movenpick Ambassador Hotel, to identify aches and pains affecting hotel workers and also to educate workers on safety and good health practices. Through the training, a pregnant women at Novotel Hotel who has been standing for 8 hours during her shift, has now been sent to the back office where she can sit and do her work.