All cleaners should earn days off
Did you know that not everyone in the cleaning sector gets paid time off on midweek public holidays? Tuesday 15 June is international Justice for Cleaners Day.
In the property services sector – which includes the cleaning and sanitation sector– work is increasingly being done at all times of day all year round, on weekdays and public holidays. In most service sectors, midweek public holidays reduce working hours, or annual holiday is earned so that all employees get paid time off under the same rules. It’s different in the cleaning sector.
“Some cleaners don’t get any paid days off in a year, even if there are midweek public holidays. This could be because of the number of days in a week that cleaners work and the way the work is organised at a particular location. In this respect the collective agreement for employees in the property services sector should correspond to the reality”, says PAM’s collective bargaining specialist Ulla Moilanen.
She is calling for consistent practices on working hours and paid days off.
“It would only be reasonable if paid time days applied equally to all workers in the sector relative to working hours.”
Part-time workers don’t get paid days off
Janne Forsman, head shop steward at the cleaning and facility services company SOL, thinks the current model is unjust.
“If, for example, a full-time employee regularly cleans the same location from Monday to Friday and there is a midweek public holiday, they usually get compensation. The situation is different for part-time workers because in practice their shifts are organised so that they are never on midweek public holidays”, he says.
According to Forsman, workers would often like to work on midweek public holidays, but customers rarely want to pay extra, meaning double wages, for work done on midweek public holidays.
“At present around 70% of SOL’s employees are part-time. That’s why the majority of employees have never had paid days off”, Forsman says.
Forsman points out that cleaners do physically demanding work and have worked right the way through this pandemic year, risking their own health.
“Is it fair that at the same time as most Finnish workers can have a paid day off, others never enjoy this benefit?” he asks.
Justice for Cleaners Day
Tuesday 15 June is international cleaners’ rights day, when trade union activists the world over campaign for recognition of the cleaning sector. The Justice for Janitors/Justice for Cleaners movement started in the United States and calls for improved employment terms and pay for cleaning sector workers.
The day, organised by PAM’s umbrella organisation the UNI Global Union, is being held in Finland for the ninth time.