Around twenty people demonstrated on Tuesday morning, from 9.15 a.m. to 10.15 a.m., near the Brussels Midi station. It was in honour of the tenth “Cleaning Day” held by the CSC Food and Services trade union. This year, the trade union is placing the emphasis on the issue of sexual abuse at work. This is based upon a survey of more than 51,000 cleaners and domestic workers. The survey indicates that 31.7% of cleaners have, at some point, been victims of sexual abuse at work. This often takes the form of gender-based verbal abuse, but also unwanted touching.
To symbolize the isolation of domestic helps, one woman marched inside a large plastic sphere on Place Victor Horta in Saint-Gilles. The CSC says that woman often work alone at a given client’s dwelling, which makes them more vulnerable. Leaflets were distributed to passers-by to raise their awareness of sexual abuse at work.
Pia Stalpaert, President of the CSC Food and Services, commented, “This is the first time that a trade union has dealt with the issue of sexual abuse in the case of cleaners. It is important for us to encourage female cleaners in private houses to say ‘Stop!’ to these forms of abuse. Such cleaners have a right to demand respect. It is not normal to be treated in this way.”
Earlier in the morning, messages of thanks for the work of domestic helps to hang on doors, and also sweets, were distributed. This occurred in a multitude of locations in Belgium. Such public places included shopping centres and the three main Brussels stations (Midi, North and Central). This initiative aims to encourage the general public to thank cleaning personnel on this day, which is given over to the latter. The trade union is also calling for greater respect of the occupation.