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Cleaning time, protest time : employment and working conditions for hotel maids - I. Puech

Isabelle Puech
Cultures et sociétés urbaines (CSU), IRESCO, CNRS, 59–61, rue Pouchet, 75849 Paris cedex, France

Available online 28 February 2007 on ScienceDirect

It is now admitted that part-time work emphasizes the inequalities between the sexes in both spheres of work and family, but this article rather focuses on the cleavages among women themselves. An analysis is provided of how working time and the company’s position combine so as to produce inequalities among female wage-earners, assigning them heterogeneous statuses, thus exposing some of them to precarious employment, working and living conditions. The study concentrates on chambermaids working part-time and full-time in the French subcontracting context of cleaning companies. Part-time work stresses and confirms the differentiations produced by subcontracting and worsens the inequalities within this group of female workers who yet do the same tasks. These cleavages have set off strikes, and the analysis of this labor dispute sheds light on some social relations running through the firm, as well as the invisible concerns for the employment and work of these women working behind the scenes.

Keywords : Employment conditions ; Working conditions ; Labor dispute ; Women ; Flexibility Social cleavage ; Social status ; Precarious(ness) ; Subcontracting ; Social status ; Work time ; Part-time work ; France

Article Outline

  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. The practice conditions of cleaning activity
    • 2.1. The labor of cleaning employees
    • 2.2. Cleaning : a women’s affair
  • 3. Working time, relation with work and relation with employment
    • 3.1. Subcontracting produces sub-employment
    • 3.2. Lack of security and maintenance in job
  • 4. Working time and social status
    • 4.1. A new type of social conflict
    • 4.2. Recognition time ?
  • 5. Conclusion. Part-time and subcontracting : a combination of insecurities
  • Appendix A : Organization and distribution of working time for part-time workers (%)
  • Appendix B : Socio-occupational characteristics of part-time workers (%)
  • References

Sociologie du Travail
Volume 49, Supplement 1, March 2007, Pages e50–e65
Translation by Amy Jacobs and Christelle Berruex