Marriott housekeepers in Zürich strike for direct permanent employment
Hotel housekeepers at Marriott's Sheraton Zurich Hotel went on strike on August 30 to highlight their intolerable working conditions and to demand direct permanent employment. In July last year, the Zürich-Schaffhausen region of the IUF's Swiss affiliate Unia issued a report documenting the brutal exploitation regime at the 4-star establishment: intolerable workloads - a team of 2 housekeepers was required to clean up to 75 rooms daily - late payment, exposure to toxic chemicals without protection, sexual harassment, racist abuse and irregular hours. Management dodged responsibility, insisting that the housekeepers are not their employees. When workers learned that the hotel had terminated their contract with the cleaning contractor and it would expire in two months' time, they decided on strike action.
Following the strike, Unia has been in negotiations with the hotel management, but, says Unia representative Norma Giannetta, it will be a long process because everything is supervised by Marriott, adding, "These workers are in a situation of extreme precariousness. It is urgent that the hotel steps in and that things get moving and working conditions improve."
The hotel has announced that it will directly hire the cleaning/housekeeping staff for the public areas and the hotel kitchen as of November 1. It has also committed to assist all current housekeepers to apply for a job with the new cleaning firm that will take over in November. Unia has welcomed these concrete improvements, while expressing disappointment that not all cleaning will be insourced, and will continue to monitor the situation and press for improvements.