PAM campaigns for cleaners’ rights: Remember to thank cleaners
Justice for cleaners! Trade union activists the world over will be spending the day campaigning for justice and recognition of the cleaning sector. Photo: GettyImages.
Today is International Justice Day for Cleaners. The purpose of the day is to remind people of cleaners’ rights and the importance of their work. Service Union United PAM is marking the day by organising events and visiting workplaces, the theme being ’thank cleaners’.
Friday 15 June is International Justice Day for Cleaners. The day is being held in Finland for the sixth time and is being organised by unions in PAM’s umbrella organisation, UNI. PAM’s own message for the day is "Remember to thank cleaners!”. The purpose of the message is to remind everybody of the valuable work done by cleaners and to value their profession, and that you can thank cleaners at your own workplace.
Making the work visible and getting everybody in Finland to value the work
According to PAM’s 2018 members’ survey, 72 per cent of cleaners are very or at least quite satisfied with their work. According to the survey, cleaners consider it important that they have the freedom to influence the pace of their work. As is well known, the work is varied and requires expertise in the field. Cleaning work and recognition of it do not always go hand in hand, but where would we be without cleaners?
“We Finns take it for granted that our country is spick and span. Operating premises are always tidy, well managed and maintained. Our buildings retain their value from one year to the next and our environment is pleasant. This all requires professionals who know their job – cleaners whose work each day ensures that our environment is clean and therefore also pleasant. If there were no cleaners, we would notice the lack of cleanliness immediately. It’s that simple,” says PAM’s Collective Bargaining Director Jaana Ylitalo.
Over the years the labour market in the cleaning sector has become more international, and nowadays more and more cleaners have a foreign background. According to PAM’s members’ survey, 48 per cent of cleaners work with immigrants. According to Statistics Finland’s employment statistics, almost half of all cleaners in the Helsinki region have an immigrant background. That is more than elsewhere. Once again, this shows how important it is to respect the sector, not just among members but more broadly, and to raise awareness of cleaners’ rights.
The movement started off as a demand for rights. The Justice for Janitors movement arrived in Europe via Britain, and in Finland the day became known as Justice Day for Cleaners. In the Nordic Countries the movement’s ideology has been promoted strongly by SUN, the Nordic Union for the Service Sectors.
“The International Justice Day for Cleaners movement was started by courageous workers, mostly with immigrant backgrounds, in the United States in 1990. The workers demanded decent wages and recognition of their work”, says Ylitalo, who is also chairperson of UNI’s European facility services sector and of SUN.
Ylitalo says that the same demands have been repeated.
“We aim raise the visibility of the work in Finland too and we demand recognition of the work by everyone in Finland, says Ylitalo.
Global day of action 15 June
Trade union activists the world over will be spending the day campaigning for justice and recognition of the cleaning sector. As well as many European countries, International Justice Day for Cleaners and Security Guards will be marked in countries including the United States, India, Brazil and Australia.
You can follow the day’s events on social media on the official Facebook page of the event. You can follow the debate on Twitter using the following hashtags: #kiitäsiivoojaa, #arvostus, #justiceforcleaners, #respect