Friday, May 05, 2006

The Canadian Maid Speaks Again

Some of you may remember the Canadian maid that I discussed in an earlier post last month. Basically, she lived as a maid for one month and then proceeded to write about her experience. Of course, it wasn't good. She lived in terrible conditions, she worked for a unsympathetic boss, she was paid less than minimum wage, and she eventually developed carpet tunnel syndrome as a result of her work. What an awful picture this depicts of the housecleaning industry.

Recently, she chatted with some of her readers and allowed them to ask questions. There's a lot of things to discuss in this chat session. I don't want to bore you, so I'll just concentrate on one comment.

"Re: employment standards. It's interesting, but maids — cleaners in private homes — is one category specially exempted from typical labour standards in many provinces. I do not know why or how this happened. (It's something I need to look into.) As for organizing, I think that it would be very hard to organize maids. The entry point for companies is very low — you just need a webpage, rags and buckets. Anyone can start a maid service. And if one company's maids were to organize, the company would probably soon go out of business.

The problem is, the entire industry relies on low wages, a public that expects a house call and human labour for a low price, and a pool of women with few options."

We're in agreement here. I've been saying this since I entered the industry. That's why we don't rely on low wages or a public that expects a low price. You get what you pay for.

Read the rest of the chat session. There's some interesting questions. One things for sure, working for a Canadian maid service company sucks.

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