Workers’ strategies to cope with increasing deterioration of working conditions in the cleaning sector

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Mots-clés : Sociologie of work, work time, cleaning sector

Estelle Krzeslo, Guy Lebeer, Marianne De Troyer, Workers’ strategies to cope with increasing deterioration of working conditions in the cleaning sector, Work : A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation, IOS Press, volume 47, number 4/2014, 463-471.


BACKGROUND : Employees working for office-cleaning companies are directly affected by the growing competition in this sector. They face a heavier workload and heightened psychological pressure. A majority of these workers are less qualified women working part-time, with flexible and inconvenient schedules.

OBJECTIVE : The objective of the study is to highlight the workers’ strategies to deal with fast work, schedule requirements and the consequent difficulties to reconcile their professional and private life commitments.
METHODS : This study is based on in-depth interviews.
PARTICIPANTS : One hundred and twenty-five male and female workers responsible for cleaning offices.
RESULTS : The themes generated from the results highlight a continued deterioration in working conditions in this sector. They also show that even approximate respect of the theoretical workload as calculated by the sub-contractor and the client company mainly depends on the workers’ subjective strategies to accommodate increasingly fragmented work hours with their private lives.
CONCLUSIONS : In conclusion, since these individual strategies are not enough to make up for the deterioration in work conditions, improving them requires sub-contractors and client companies to agree on organisational arrangements that take into account the reality of the employees’ lives.

Keywords : Sociology of work, work time, cleaning sector

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