‘Green hotel’ claim is dangerous greenwashing

A jobs agency supplying workers to a top US hotel chain is imposing debilitating work rates on the out-sourced staff while boasting the measures are creating a “green hotel”.

Rick Holliday, president of the temporary agency Hospitality Staffing Solutions, told the Boston Globe he has given the formerly directly employed Hyatt housekeepers a “start’’ on the “American Dream’’ by paying them $8 per hour to clean 25 rooms per day. He said the “green programmes’’ in which sheets are not automatically changed, enable workers to nearly double their workload.

Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH), is not impressed.

“Imagine yourself in Holliday’s ‘dream’: You show up at work and learn that your new employer is a temporary agency. Then you’re told you must clean 40 per cent more rooms per day – 25 instead of 15, from 30 minutes to less than 17 minutes per room, because you work in a ‘green hotel’ and will change sheets less frequently.

“You still have many other tasks per room – scrubbing toilets, cleaning tiles, washing coffee makers, dusting, wiping mirrors, vacuuming carpets, mopping floors, and lifting heavy mattresses for rooms that need sheets changed. To meet the higher quota, you skip breaks and lunches.

“Because these tasks require 8,000 back- and shoulder-breaking postures, you are likely to suffer severe work-related pain (77 per cent to 91 per cent of housekeepers do). To get through the day, you may need pain medication (65 per cent of housekeepers do). There’s a fair chance you will become permanently disabled.”

In a letter to the Boston Globe, she concludes: “Not green with envy for this American Dream? The flag Rick Holliday’s waving isn’t red, white, and blue – it’s greenwashed.”

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