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A hotel housekeeper who once led a strike at one of Paris’s biggest hotels has become an MP following Sunday’s historic French elections which saw President Emmanuel Macron’s majority destroyed.
Rachel Keke, 48, is now the first ever cleaner to be elected to the French parliament, having stood on a leftist alliance ticket. In a close contest she picked up 50.3 per cent of votes, defeating Roxana Maracineanu, a former swimming champion and sports minister.
Before Sunday’s momentous vote, Keke was best known for taking part in one of France’s longest hotel strikes, highlighting unpaid overtime and poor working conditions of outsourced cleaning staff. Many of the strikers were women of African heritage, and Keke herself was born on the Ivory Coast. After a tough start in life, she arrived in France in 2000, working first as a hairdresser and then on a supermarket till before moving on to hotel work.
In 2015 she took French nationality and since then she’s become a champion for many keyworkers, not just in hospitality but also in retail. Keke has said an aim in parliament will be to “make visible those who are invisible.”