Working realities of female domestic cleaners in the gig-economy. Lessons from Vienna.

Wiesböck, LauraORCID:; Vo, Mai Linh Angelique and Radlherr, JuliaORCID: (2022) Working realities of female domestic cleaners in the gig-economy. Lessons from Vienna. ESPANET 2022, 14-16 September 2022, Vienna. 15 p.

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Previous studies show that gig-economy-supported work opens up new ways in which gender inequalities are (re)produced. However, so far, little attention has been paid to platform-based working realities from a gender lens. This is especially the case in regard to female cleaning staff in private households, where inequalities, such as gender, migratory experience, ethnicity or socioeconomic background intersect.
There are numerous challenges when it comes to social protection and occupational safety in this field: First, given the missing co-presence of colleagues and the lack of social control in private environments, female domestic cleaners find themselves in unprotected and isolated spaces. Furthermore, cleaning labourers face significant economic challenges, like the dependence on platforms for access to employment, or financial emergencies and existential fears, not least due to the COVID19 pandemic and its particularly severe impact on domestic employment opportunities. Lastly, serious strains like language barriers and work-related health problems (e.g. respiratory diseases, skin diseases) are prevalent.
Overall, the spatially and linguistically fragmented cleaning workers pose a challenge for trade union strategies as well as for scientific research, which is reflected in the insufficient data available to date. The aim of the research project GigClean is to close this gap. The project is funded by the digitalisation fund of the Vienna Chamber of Labour and based at the Institute for Advanced Studies with researchers from the field of sociology and social policy.
Our main interest is to gain insights into the distribution of responsibilities and risks, e.g. in terms of working hours, wages, type of contracts, holiday entitlement, illness and injury, COVID-19 related hazards, experiences with discrimination or harassment by the platform company or by customers, the provision of cleaning supplies and more. The methodological design consists of 15 problem-centered interviews (PCI) with female platform-based cleaning workers in private living spaces in Vienna. The interviews are conducted anonymously and, if desired, in the first language of the workers.
The study is accompanied by an advisory board consisting of experts in the field of platform work, labor law and the cleaning industry. The consortium will discuss the empirical findings from both a scientific perspective and trade union point of view. The aim of the cooperation is to develop information material based for social partners and social protection policy makers regarding existing problems as well as for platform-based domestic cleaners regarding their own legal rights. For the latter purpose, a website will be prepared in thirteen languages.
In this paper, we will present preliminary insights based on the interviews available at that time. In addition, we will reflect methodological challenges in the data collection process, such as the accessibility of interview partners in a multilingual field, social desirability biases and how to enable trust in interview settings.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Event Organiser: Department of Sociology, University of Vienna
Research Units: Current Research Groups > Education and Employment
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2022 09:09
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2022 09:09

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