Long before most of us get to work – or after most of us have left our job a vital yet poorly paid and often overlooked section of the workforce are beginning their shift. It is a fact that cleaners are often neglected in discussions about workplaces yet, if they neglect their work, many other people’s jobs rapidly become impossible and most public services become undeliverable.
This is applicable in almost any workplace or facility – but of course in many environments cleaners are the front line of hygiene and preventing the spread of infection.
UNISON Scotland has been surveying cleaning staff in areas where we organise to get a picture of how they are faring in the era of cuts and austerity. Through a combination of questionnaires filled in at work, interviews and online surveys we attempted to take a snapshot of a section of the workforce we all depend on.
The picture that emerges is one of a workforce largely, but far from exclusively, female, mostly part time, and trying simultaneously to deal with an increase workload and wages that don’t go as far as they used to.