Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online
September 2012 Cleanthoughts

Cleaners Converge In London

One of many storylines surrounding the 2012 Summer Olympic Games was that of the custodians.

September 13, 2012

Now that the 2012 Summer Olympic Games have wrapped up and America has again confirmed its worldwide athletic dominance, I'd like to reflect on some of the stories that surfaced regarding the custodial professionals who cleaned and maintained London's Olympic Village for more than three weeks.

We ran several stories in the CM e-News Daily about the diversity of the 3,600 individuals comprising the custodial staffs and the energetic enthusiasm they brought to the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

But, what did not garner much attention — maybe because the small army of custodians, nearly all of whom were students, voiced few concerns — was their plight.

While athletes lived lavishly, the 2012 Summer Olympic Games custodians stayed in what was dubbed "Camp Cleanevent," a slum village of sorts consisting of 100 temporary structures, each sleeping 10 individuals in bunk beds.

What's more, 25 people shared a single toilet and there was only one shower for every 75 people.'

According to British housing laws, any accommodation where more than two adults have to share a room is considered overcrowded.

And, in accordance with health and safety guidelines, employers should provide, at a minimum, one toilet and one sink per every 20 people.

It is not a far stretch to call the conditions a cramped hygiene concern.

I do not know with certainty, but I can assume that the facilities utilized by the custodians cleaning and maintaining the venues hosting the greatest sporting show on Earth were not adequately looked after.

A 19-year-old student from Spain who was counted as one of the custodians said, "If it's wet, it gets really, really dirty. It's uncomfortable to have a shower because you can get dirty when you come back to your room."

For their efforts, the smorgasbord of custodians were paid the equivalent of $12.40 an hour, were supplied with three meals each day and received free transportation to the sporting venues.

However, the fee for the shanties in which they stayed was the equivalent of $861 a month, roughly the price it would cost to rent a one-bedroom apartment in London.

But, regardless of the living quarters' quality, the vast majority of custodial professionals were thrilled to be a part of something historic.

A 22-year-old Hungarian student who was among the lot of custodians quipped, "I came here to be a cleaner and live next to the Olympic Park. That's enough for me."

Would You Go For The Gold?

Would the rate of pay, free meals and the ability to say you were among the 2012 Summer Olympic Games custodians be rewarding enough for you to spend a month cleaning up after rabid fans and the competitors for whom they patriotically cheer?

I can honestly say that the chockfull nature of dormitory life in college — which, in contrast to the conditions endured by these custodians, seems inconsequential — was enough for me.

Then again, these 3,600 individuals will have some great stories to share with their domestic coworkers and family members for many years to come.