Invisible workforce: the experiences of female cleaning service employees within the Department of Public Works in Pretoria region

Ntsie, Alletah
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Globally, the cleaning industry is one example of the labour sector where the conditions of work have been particularly affected by forces of globalization and what may be defined as the effects of neoliberal policies. Cleaning is also considered a typical low-skilled occupation and in South Africa it is dominated by Black Africans, especially women with low formal education levels. This is attributed to apartheid’s racial division of labour which ensured that Black people mostly occupied low-skilled manual jobs. The low status of the cleaning work can be linked to its female-dominated workforce, and the fact that cleaning work is traditionally categorized as women’s work and therefore ranks less important than male-dominated work. This qualitative study aimed at understanding the experiences of female cleaning service employees in the workplace. The study used a case study design and participants were sixteen female cleaning service employees from the Department of Public Works in Pretoria region. The sampling procedure used in this study was non-probability, purposive sampling. The data collection method used was semi-structured interviews. The interviews were based on a questionnaire with a sequence of questions. The raw data was analysed through a six-phase guide of thematic analysis. The study found that the female cleaning employees feel alienated and undervalued. The study recommends that, female cleaning service employees’ voices should be heard in their workplaces, as to promote their visibility and gender equality
A research report submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree Master of Occupational Social Work, to The Department of Social Work, School of Human and Community Development, Faculty of Humanities, University of Witwatersrand, 2020