I WAS a cleaner at hotels in Paris. I worked for the Arcade corporation that cleaned rooms for the ACCOR group. The cleaners are mainly immigrant women. We are all in the SUD union and are fighting to defend our rights.
We are not paid enough. People employed directly by ACCOR are supposed to clean 18 rooms in eight hours. But workers for Arcade have to clean 22 rooms in six hours for less pay.
We work very long hours, and do not have rights like breakfast and lunch breaks that other workers get. We wanted the same rights as those who work for ACCOR, so we struck in March 2002. We were on strike for a year until February 2003—and we won.
Management started to go back on many of the agreements, and we started to build up for a second strike. Management sacked me in May this year because I was the main union official.
They said I did too many hours for the union, but I did my normal hours then had meetings with the workers. Now I am struggling to win my job back.
I am hoping to meet other workers in a similar situation in London. I would really like to meet up with the Canary Wharf cleaners who are going through a similar struggle to us.
I would tell them that we should not give up fighting, because we can win. We had a one-year strike and we won. Why can't we strike more?
I went to the meeting on women and the trade unions on Saturday morning. I enjoyed it, and found the experiences very close to my own life.