The Workers Union has hailed the ‘heroic’ contribution that cleaning staff make to the health and wellbeing of their fellow workers.
In a statement released today, a spokesperson for the organisation said: ‘Cleaning staff are one of the most vital, yet criminally underappreciated parts of our society. They are the people that clean up after the rest of us, dealing with everything from rubbish in the streets, to soiled toilets, to untidy desks. Without their heroic efforts during the pandemic, the NHS would have ground to a halt and staff would not have been able to return to their places of work. They could not retreat to the relative safety of their homes like the rest of us. They were required to put themselves on the front line, washing floors and cleaning windows and sideboards so that offices had a fighting chance of suppressing the COVID virus.
We think it’s high time that they had a vote of thanks and appreciation from the rest of us.’
The announcement comes after recent stories revealed the extent of the challenges facing cleaning staff every day of their working lives. For example, an article in the Liverpool Echo told how a cleaning team was sent onto a train traveling to Liverpool, after a passenger alerted Merseyrail to a pile of toe-nail clippings left under a seat. Meanwhile, cleaners were also required en masse after football-related celebrations in Glasgow left a trail of rubbish over the Merchant City area.
The Workers Union Says…
Cleaners are the victims of an implied culture of thanks. If they are employed, the reasoning goes, then that is probably enough reward for their abilities. They may occasionally get a nod from an office worker as they pass by on their way to lunch or exchange a smile with the first, bleary-eyed arrivals of morning. But how many of them ghost through the lives of others, their existence vital and yet unnoticed?
Perhaps the reason for this is bound up in a feeling of condescension towards them? How difficult can it be, after all, to wipe a mop around a dirty floor? It’s hardly the stuff of graduate bean counters and tech-savvy marketing execs, is it?
The best way to answer this troubling proposition is to consider this: how many of those wrinkle-free middle class hands would be happy to get themselves dirty emptying bins, cleaning urinals and taking out food waste? The bottom line is that this is a serious, usually underpaid job and the people that do it are courageous heroes to a person.
So the next time company chiefs are washing their morning cornflakes with milk, they might want to remember the contribution of the cleaning staff who’ve worked through the night to get trains, buses and office spaces into a fit state for their employees. They might even want to show their appreciation with a cost of living busting pay rise? After all, it is the sweat and graft of cleaners that makes our graft possible.