The hospitality industry’s dirty secret: workers who clean the rooms suffer physical damage and abuse

International trade union body launches world-wide week of action

The hospitality industry rests on the backs of housekeepers – which guest would return to a hotel whose rooms are not clean? But their near-invisible status means that housekeepers’ contribution to the global tourism industry is hugely undervalued. Through the IUF’s ‘Make my workplace safe’ initiative, housekeepers around the world have been speaking out against abusive working conditions and organizing to demand that the global hotel industry recognize their dignity, their rights and their trade unions.

Housekeepers perform exhausting daily tasks for low pay and little or no employment security. The vast majority are women, often migrants. Their vulnerability exposes them to a multitude of health, safety and security risks: risks to their bodies from repetitive, heavy tasks, sexual harassment and abuse, exploitation by unscrupulous employers who often fiercely resist union organization, outsourcing schemes that shield employers from responsibility and further degrade working conditions and insufficient or a total lack of legal and social security. Few guests would imagine that housekeepers have one of the highest rates of work-related injuries and sickness of any occupational group.

This year, housekeepers in dozens of countries around the world will again be taking action through the IUF’s ‘Make my workplace safe’ initiative for healthy, safe and dignified working conditions for housekeepers everywhere.

From October 31 to November 6, housekeepers will be calling on hotel employers to address the ubiquitous threat of sexual harassment. Unions will be meeting with members and employers to highlight the need for concrete measures to protect housekeepers’ health and safety. And everywhere, unions will be highlighting the right of housekeepers to negotiate, through their trade unions, their conditions of employment – a fundamental human right.

The Nordic Union of Hotel, Restaurant, Catering and Tourism workers and its member unions will carry out various actions during this week. Hotel Housekeepers in the Nordic region demand a good and safe working environment, cooperation at the workplace and collective agreements.

During the action week our affiliates will make company visits, operate digital campaigns and raise awareness among the public highlighting the benefits of choosing hotels with collective agreements.



Nordisk Union
C/o 3F
Kampmannsgade 4
1790 København V

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+45 88 92 13 63
+45 88 92 13 54
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The Nordic Union for Hotel, Restaurant, Catering and Tourism sector, is an association of unions in Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, all of which unionise workers of the HRCT industry. The member unions have all made collective agreements with employers organizations and companies in the NU HRCT.

All in all NU HRCT covers seven unions with a total of about 115,000 members.