Table 11: Dislikes about the Job: Office and Contract Cleaners
What don’t you like about your j Low pay Employer’s policies/practices Work nature/demands Other No complaint Treatment by customers/the public
No 48 32 26 9 4 1
% 40.0 26.7 21.7 7.5 3.3 0.8
No response = 9
This response was followed by employer’s policies/practices (such as ‘rude treatment of workers’ and ‘pressure’), which was noted by 27% of workers. 22% of workers were also unhappy about the nature of their jobs and its demands (22%). For instance, Abeo from Nigeria revealed that she was paid £4.85 per hour and was frequently asked to do strenuous work which she felt was not a cleaner’s responsibility, such as climbing tables and cleaning cobwebs. Before migrating to Britain she was employed as a teacher and she emphasised the frustration she felt with her current job.
Although the workers claimed that they were dissatisfied, several also commented that their lack of proficiency in English prevented them from improving their working conditions. Symao from Portugal revealed that he had to stop attending his English lessons as he was too tired after work. He claimed he felt trapped as English was necessary to gain a better job, yet his current work made it extremely difficult to attend language school.
Less than one tenth of all workers in the sector belonged to a trade union. And of these, workers belonged to a range of unions including the T&G, GMB and UNISON. 42% of workers were active in faith organisations.