Housekeepers are much more exposed than other categories to musculo-skeletal injuries which affect the lumbar zone, tendons, muscles, nerves and joints of the upper limbs and neck, and which can lead to chronic symptoms and acute infections.
There are numerous proven cases of young women workers who after a few years of working like this in extreme conditions are so seriously injured that they can no longer do any job.
The new forms of organization of work and the abandonment by governments of essential controls have led to a general increase in these disorders, especially in the hotel industry.
Although in some countries the affected workers can obtain financial compensation for their injury, that cannot repair the damage, and this is what we are seeking to prevent with this campaign of prevention. We want to draw employers’ attention to the fact that it is not just a problem for the housekeeper but the company as well.
As the HRCT sector, we are organizing a major campaign aimed at various companies and transnational corporations. Prior to that, we carried out a study in various countries obtaining direct information about what is happening in several hotels in this regard.
These inputs allowed us to determine that not only is it necessary to regulate the number of rooms that a housekeeper must clean during her day, but also, and above all, the number of square metres for which she is responsible.
Train, prevent, control
In November 2012, during the annual meeting of the Board of the IUF HRCT Trade Group held in Cyprus, preventive measures which should be applied in companies were approved: training, personal protective equipment, appropriate and efficient tools and appropriate organization of work.
Also defined and approved in that 2012 meeting were daily productivity standards in square metres, according to the category of hotel and type of surfaces to be cleaned.
We advised trade unions to discuss collective agreements or conditions of work at establishment, provincial or national level adopting this approach.
In Argentina we met with representatives of the major hotels and there was quite a positive response, as they seemed to find it interesting to calculate by square metre.