The EU social partners in Industrial Cleaning EFCI and UNI Europa have signed a new joint statement. It calls on the European institutions to implement daytime cleaning and continuous shifts for their cleaners.
The health consequences for cleaners working during the night or irregular hours are disastrous. Scientific evidence shows that nighttime cleaning impacts negatively on the body’s temperature, and one’s nervous system, creating effects associated with carcinogen characteristics. Women who work the night shift increase their risk of breast cancer by 30%. Among the medical research community, there is also a consensus that nightshift work disrupts our 24-hour biological clock, which in turn increases the risks for bodily illness and somatic maladjustments due to lack of night sleep.
By promoting daytime cleaning, EU social partners are directly contributing to positive public health outcomes. The public health-dimension of daytime cleaning is further highlighted by the Covid-19 crisis, which has placed greater emphasis on hygiene protocols and regular disinfection in buildings and offices.
With gas shortages, rising energy and electricity costs, the switch to daytime cleaning can also make a valuable societal and economic contribution as it saves the client energy costs associated with having lights on during the nighttime. At the same time, it allows cleaners to use public transport during the day rather than being reliant on owning a personal vehicle. Thus, the statement emphasizes how daytime cleaning is environmentally sustainable and ensures higher quality services.
The current labour shortages in the cleaning sector underscore the need for an economy-wide switch to daytime cleaning.
”Through daytime cleaning the cleaning profession is upgraded. Attractive working hours lead to less labour turnover and can counteract the labour shortages.”, Zeynep Bicici, UNI Europa Property Services President said. She added: ”Cleaners need to become part of the daily work routine in the companies they clean and be part of the team. This makes them and also cleaning itself visible again. We strongly believe that this will increase the respect and appreciation for their work.”
Most cleaners are women who often still have to care for their children or older loved ones. By having them clean clients’ premises during the early hours of the morning or at night, they are not only deprived of work-life balance but also placed into more isolated and vulnerable situations both on and off the job.
Meanwhile, for many migrant workers, the cleaning sector is a pathway into the labour market of their new host societies. Yet rather than being integrated into an office with colleagues and social interactions, nighttime cleaning creates further barriers to their societal integration. For both women and migrant workers, nighttime work also increases the possibility to be subject to physical violence, verbal abuse, and harassment from public (during commute) and abusive practices by employers.
Zeynep Bicici, UNI Europa Property Services President said: ”Daytime cleaning promotes fair and good work. In many cases, full-time cleaning positions are already common practice in clinics and nursing homes. Now it is time for schools, office buildings and other facilities to also enable family-friendly working hours and higher wages for workers in the cleaning sector. With this statement, we are sending a strong signal to politicians that daytime cleaning is essential for recovery.”
The new statement calls on European institutions to implement daytime cleaning in its own selection of cleaning services. It also calls on the European institutions to reference daytime cleaning and continuous shifts in their legislative guidelines, recommendations and procurement tools.
Oliver Roethig, UNI Europa’s Regional Secretary, said: “We need an economy-wide shift to daytime cleaning, and this switch starts with the European institutions. Daytime cleaning represents a triple-win. Workers are no longer isolated and invisible; companies can attract and retain workers, and clients can make an easy contribution to sustainability and decent work. The time for this shift is now!”
The EU Social Partners will follow up this statement with other joint activities.