Stringent deadlines leading to ‘hygiene shortcuts’
HOTEL cleaners are taking hygiene shortcuts to meet deadlines to fix rooms in 15 minutes, for work that takes about 45 minutes to do properly, a union representing many of the industry’s workers have said.
Contract cleaners, who are also now being employed by major hotel chains, is a major concern globally. Recently, Jess Walsh from union United Voice, which has run campaigns targeting hotels for not treating their cleaning staff properly, has said it takes 45 minutes for a cleaner to properly maintain a hotel room. But hotel bosses are demanding the job be done in as little as 15 minutes.
But the chief executive of Accommodation Association of Australia, Richard Munro, argued most hotels gave cleaners enough time to do rooms properly. Those that did not quickly lost business. “First and foremost, the product has to be first-rate, so we as an industry don’t compromise standards,’’ he said. “Consumers will tell [hotels] very quickly if their product is not up to speed. If someone is not giving cleaners enough time to clean their rooms, their consumers will tell them.’’
And the managing director of Tourism Accommodation Australia, Rodger Powell, said in many cases 15 minutes would be ample time to clean a room well.
He said that while hotels faced a daily challenge to ensure all rooms were cleaned and presentable in time for guests, cleaners were generally provided with appropriate time and materials to ensure high standards of cleanliness and hygiene.
The time constraints had become worse over the two decades in the industry, as agencies cut back on cleaning supplies and cram more tasks into supposed 7½-hour shifts.
Fairfax Media obtained a roster from a senior room attendant who worked in a four-star hotel. The roster required her to clean 13 rooms, including two suites, in 7½ hours, as well as stocking cleaning carts, maintaining laundry and overseeing other cleaners. An instruction sheet released by national housekeeping contractor Australian Hospitality Services details the 22 steps to a well-cleaned room, including stripping the bed, cleaning the bathroom and cleaning all the glass surfaces.
In 2010-2011, a national cleaning services campaign revealed that 40% of audited cleaning companies had breached the law. Last month, it launched its campaign to look at 1000 contract-cleaning businesses.