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Bosses learn the hard way

The struggle to find and keep good housekeeping staff – indeed for many roles in hospitality – is affecting hotels across the world. For instance, reduced room cleaning, or even none during a stay unless guests request it, has become the norm in some US establishments.

In Penang, Malaysia, finance chiefs and other executives have been pulling on housekeeping uniforms to keep premises open, The Star, that country’s largest English language newspaper, reports.

One sales director in a five-star resort told them: “Never in my 20 years’ career have I experienced this,” and The Star records that he was out of breath on the phone after lifting a king-size mattress to replace linen. Another revealed: “You don’t know what it is like until you have to change the linens of 30 beds in a row.”

The Malaysian Association of Hotels Penang says hotels previously relied on foreign workers and cleaning agencies but when hospitality closed during lockdowns many were contracted out to factories. Some are thought to have doubled take home pay in manufacturing and have not returned.

International travel restrictions are also limiting the return of workers Pressure is now mounting from cleaning agencies on the government to allow them to bring in foreign labour again. What about local people? The association’s chief told The Star that even with increased hourly rates some tried housekeeping for a day, complained of back ache and said they would not be returning. Wherever you look around the world, it’s often the same story!

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