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Dublin: 4 °C Saturday 14 December, 2019

'No one ever notices the cleaner'

Several events are taking place today to mark International Justice Day for Cleaners.

CLEANERS ARE HOLDING a number of events globally to celebrate International Justice Day for Cleaners.

SIPTU organiser Paul Hansard said that the day is all about increasing the recognition and respect shown to cleaners.

The Union is hosting events in Dublin, Cork and Galway to mark the occasion.

“Basically what we’re looking for is recognition. If you go to a hospital, you know who the doctors and the nurses are, but you’ll never notice who the cleaner is,” Hansard said.

“It’s a celebration, not a protest. We have the support of Irish Rail and the support of the hospitals.

Basically we want to have the support of the people. If people didn’t clean the trains and the hospitals no one could use them.

He added that the public need to “know [cleaners] exist and show them respect”.

‘Invisble to the public’

Mary McBride, a cleaner from St Luke’s Hospital in Dublin, noted:

“We are often invisible to the public. Yet without the work we do, many of our most important facilities including hospitals, railway stations and universities simply could not function. This day is about reminding people about the value of our work in society.”

Events are taking place in the following locations today:
Dublin: Connolly Train Station; 8 – 9 am
Dublin: St James Hospital; 11.30 am – 2 pm
Cork: Cork University Hospital; 1– 2 pm
Cork: Kent Railway Station; 4.30 – 6 pm
Galway: Ceannt Railway Station; 12.30 – 2 pm

At the events information on the day itself will be given to members of the public. At Connolly Station from 8-9 am, the Resistance Choir will perform songs about workers’ rights, while the Galway Workers Choir will sing at Ceannt Railway Station from 12.30 – 2 pm.


The event itself dates back to 1990. On 15 June of that year, a group of janitors in Los Angeles were beaten by police during a peaceful demonstration against their contractor.

The resulting public outrage led to the contractor agreeing to allow the workers to unionise.

“The community came out and supported the cleaners and forced the employers to negotiate with the cleaners,” Hansard explained.

SIPTU is seeking to improve cleaners’ work conditions through its initiative Fair Deal for Cleaners.

Explainer: It’s International Justice Day for Cleaners, but what is it?

Read: Cleaners take to Dublin streets for their international day

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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