Business & Pleasure November 3, 2019 | 7:18 am

Precarious, dangerous and with poverty wages, this is the job of hotel maids

Santo Domingo, RD

Dangerous, dirty, demanding, and to top it off poverty wages, such is the description of the work of hotel maids in an Oxfam investigation that analyzes this work in Canada, the Dominican Republic, and Thailand.

The study shows that although millions of women around the world spend their days cleaning hotel rooms, contributing their efforts to the prosperity of the hotel industry, they do not enjoy the wealth that the tourism sector generates at all.

The waitresses who work in non-unionized hotels earn salaries that are below the minimum, receive few benefits, and have little or no job security. They also face serious health risks and suffer high rates of injury from pushing the often heavy beds, and this adds up to the high levels of sexual harassment that they also have to face.

“In addition to the difficulties they face at work, the waitresses also struggle to find childcare. The State does not provide universal childcare, and it is irregular, and long work schedules make it difficult to find reasonable childcare services. The situation is worse for migrant women who live far from family support networks,” the researchers add.

Multiple tasks

The study reports that hotel maids perform a wide range of functions, including making beds, fixing rooms, cleaning and polishing toilets, faucets, sinks, bathtubs, and mirrors, washing the floor, removing stains and vacuuming carpets, among others.

“They have to meet a large quota of rooms every day, and are expected to work overtime without payment if they cannot meet the quota within their eight-hour shift,” adds the report entitled “The dirty secret of tourism.”

The investigation establishes that, due to the large number of tasks involved, the cleaning service is considered exhausting and dangerous domestic work. Despite this, the hotel industry considers the waitresses as “a disposable product.” It also indicates that hotel companies, instead of improving the conditions of their workers, have prioritized customer satisfaction.


Given this reality, Oxfam researchers recommend that the hotel industry take tangible measures to improve the safety and general working conditions of its employees.

They propose concrete actions such as providing less toxic cleaning products, establishing measures to prevent sexual harassment, establishing regular schedules and predictable hours of work, moving towards the payment of a living wage to all its employees, and not frustrating union organizing efforts in any way.

Governments are proposed to enact public policies to achieve lasting changes in the lives of domestic workers.

And consumers raise their voices and choose to spend their money on businesses that treat their workers and workers with respect and dignity.

“When you travel, choose to stay in unionized hotels whenever possible and avoid hotels that are known to violate the rights of workers,” they recommend.

During the study, the working life of the waitresses in Toronto, Canada, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and Phuket, Thailand, was examined through interviews directly with them.

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