Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Randy IMF chief not the only danger housekeepers face

The alleged perp.
Hotel housekeepers are a largely invisible work force. Their jobs are physically demanding. They spend their days lifting heavy mattresses and cleaning up after messes left by guests who sometimes pose a threat to their safety. While media focus in the recent sexual assault allegations against IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn was on his career, The Daily Beast reports on working conditions for hotel maids:
It’s a perfect storm of factors that make the job so dangerous: Housekeepers often are tasked with cleaning whole blocks of rooms, so they’re alone in isolated wings or halls of their hotels, without security or any means of calling for help. The women who fill these positions tend to have humble backgrounds, have few means, or are illegal immigrants—and may indeed have all those characteristics. They consequently are less likely file complaints or speak up about mistreatment, for fear of jeopardizing their jobs. And there’s an inherent power dynamic at play, wherein a hotel’s management is eager to please wealthy clients—even if that means turning a blind eye to the complaints of one of their staffers.
Most of the workers are women. One single mother in Chicago said she and her co-workers are subject to harassment by hotel guests, but telling management rarely gets them anywhere.
“The bosses tell us to be pleasant, smile, say thank you, and offer good service. But some guests think this is an open invitation for other things ... There is no sense of security.”