Are the clients provided with trained manpower?
Cleaning Contractors Say:
Minimum Wages: It is not the benchmark for client companies to determine wages. Expecting people to work on minimum wages of र3000 or so is “unfair”.
Manpower Crunch: At a time when there are not many who want to take up the cleaning job, service providers have to make do with whatever is available.
Headcount: Contracts are based on headcount and not on quality service or mechanised cleaning.
Deferred Payment: Clients keep delaying payments for even over six months in some cases. How can service providers run their business?
Reduced Margins: Client companies expect service providers to work at prices much lower than the expenses.
Client Education: Clients need to change their attitude towards cleaning. They need to be educated.
Client Companies Say:
Determining Wage Slab: Minimum wages is definitely not a criterion but if service providers are able to provide skilled labour, wages could be increased.
Manpower Crunch: Workers are available in abundance. They are unskilled and service providers engage such labour by providing them training on site.
Cleaning Science: Running cleaning machines does not make it a science.
Payment Punishment: Payments are delayed to ensure promised standards are met with.
Lower Margins: With the type of service and manpower, service provider may have to settle at low margins.
Better Informed: Clients are better informed than the service provider and know exactly what is to be cleaned and how many workers are required.
The awareness about mechanised cleaning and better cleanliness standards is growing, both at the contractor level and the client level. There are visible changes in the cleaning programmes adopted by various client companies and the way service providers are chosen. Affirming the changing scenario, Richa Dwivedi, Housekeeping Manager, CK Birla Group, New Delhi, says, “A few years back, housekeeping was considered just a cleaning job. But now, it is being looked at as more of a science. Client companies are very much aware of the types of cleaning agents, equipment and the working schedules. Similarly, even the workers are experimenting with the methods of cleaning using equipment and chemicals.
Many agree that the use of cleaning equipment and chemicals is essential, but the result is very often not as expected because of the inexperience and incompetence shown by housekeeping companies during execution.
Do the housekeepers know the equipment?
Do they exactly know why they are using a particular equipment?
Do they even know the composition of chemicals being used?
Speaking to CIJ, a young housekeeping executive, who had been working as executive housekeeper in the hospitality industry for several years and is now working with a pharma company, says, “Even though I have been an executive housekeeper, now sitting on the other side of the table interacting with contract workers who are providing service at the premises, I’m yet to meet a service provider who can tell me exactly what to do for my indoor air quality, water saving or sewage water treatment plant. “Only by using scrubbers and carpet shampooing machines, we can’t call it mechanised cleaning service or scientific approach to cleaning.”
Ralph Sunil, Vice President – Administration, Essar Steel Limited, Hazira, (Gujarat), feels cleaning involves a wide range of activities and is of varied types. It’s the type of cleaning that determines the skill set. If every type is looked at scientifically, then a sea change will come in the cleaning industry.” And that is possible when the people involved in the cleaning know what they are doing. “Most of them are not well informed about cleaning because they do not have a background in the cleaning industry.
Hence, maintains Keith Monteiro, Vice President, Reliance Industries Ltd, that the cleaning service is still looked upon as unskilled work and not as a science. “In fact, cleaning as a process can scientifically be achieved only by using the right chemicals, the right equipment and most importantly, rightly trained manpower.”