A matter of survival

7th of July 2020
A matter of survival

As a vital link in the fight against the pandemic, cleaning companies have had to re-focus their activities, writes Christian Bouzols in France. It’s also been a matter of survival.

Just like the great majority of companies, those in the cleaning sector have been hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak and some of them have lost up to three-quarters of their business.
“Even the larger companies, those employing thousands of cleaners, have been impacted,” explains Fabrice Fournier, president of the Sud-Est branch of the Fédération des Entreprises de Propreté (FEP), representing 320 of the organisation’s 3,000 members.

“As general cleaners we’ve lost a large part of our business and have had to resort to temporary layoffs, including sending people on sick leave to enable them to care for their children. This depends of course on the type of activity involved. For example, companies that also operate in the healthcare sector have preserved much of their turnover.”

Protect workers

He added: “Of course, we remain deployed in the cleaning of buses, offices, pharmacies, supermarkets, etc. Our motto is that everything that’s doable, we have to do it. It’s vital that we should continue to clean and to sanitise in the fight against COVID-19. And in doing so, we ensure that all obligatory measures are taken to protect our workers.”

“We’ve strengthened our sanitising operations on points of manual contact such as door handles, armrests, switches, telephones, computers,” Fournier emphasised. “This work is additional to that which we normally carry out but doesn’t replace the 75 per cent we’ve lost.”

François Dolphin, commercial manager for a cleaning company, has also been on a war footing for some time. Responsible for some 15 workers, he’s had to temporarily lay off three of them and to reorganise the remainder.

Work suspended

“We’ve suspended working in a number of areas. The focus now is on sanitisation. We’re increasingly asked to disinfect company offices and business premises. Our workers are equipped with gloves, one-piece suits, footwear covers, face masks and goggles. We’re using products that have been entirely adapted for disinfecting floors and wall surfaces and we’re paying special attention to all contact surfaces.” This new focus on sanitisation amounts to 25-30 per cent of the company’s normal turnover.

“It will be interesting to see what happens when the crisis is over and when we’ll have to disinfect everything else the day economic activity is resumed,” Dolphin concluded.


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