Athletics

Rio Olympic village.

Olympic village cleaners hit out at working conditions

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Football News
24/7

The summer Olympics isn't all about the bright lights, the medals, and the star-studded athletes on show. There is also a darker side to the Games that isn't usually put in the spotlight.

However, it's been revealed by the Guardian that the cleaners that work at the Olympic village only get paid roughly £1.40 an hour.

To put that figure into perspective, the normal housekeeper in Brazil earns more than double what the cleaners do at the Olympic village and often work a lot fewer hours.

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It's claimed that some of the cleaners at the Olympic village work around 17-hours a day for just £1.40 an hour, often starting at 4am and finishing at 9pm.

The cleaners at the Olympic village are responsible for keeping the athletes' accommodation clean and are often working from first thing in the morning, to the last thing at night, sometimes doing jobs that aren't in their job description.

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Despite being paid a measly £1.40 an hour, that can easily be reduced due to the cleaners having to pay for things like food and transport during their working day.

This means they can end up earning less than £1 an hour, despite doing marathon shifts and despite having to sometimes make two-hour round trips to the Olympic village due to the poor transport systems in Brazil.

Although the pay is just above minimum wage, some of the cleaners have expressed their dissatisfaction with the way they are treated.

“The athletes must be aware of our working conditions because they can see the poor quality of the work we do. There are too many buildings, not enough staff and no real incentive to do a good job,” said one cleaner.

Olympics - Previews - Day -1

The pay isn't the only issue for the cleaners, however, as they have also complained about the treatment they receive from Olympic officials.

One cleaner, who didn't want to be identified, spoke to the Guardian and revealed that they were treated like animals at times.

It was revealed that they'd sometimes have to miss lunch because of the long queues, but would also be forced to go to nearby hospitals if they were ill, rather than just use the expert medical centres on site.

Another cleaner revealed a shocking story about one of her colleagues collapsing with a possible heart attack. She revealed that no ambulances were called because they are saved for the athletes.

She said: “No ambulances arrived because the preference is for the athletes. It’s humiliation at every turn.”

Olympics - Previews - Day -1

All of the cleaners that offered to give an interview for the Guardian revealed that the food they were offered was 'horrible' and 'disgusting', and also admitted that if they brought food, it would go out of their pay.

One of the cleaners was very vocal about the conditions they work in and the problems they face on a day-to-day basis.

“We are being treated like dogs, like thieves,” they said.

“We often receive gifts from the athletes. They sign authorisations and we take pictures with them to prove that they gave the present to us. We also get signatures from our supervisors. But the security guards forbid us from leaving with the gifts because they think we stole them. We can’t wear brand-name tennis shoes because we’ll be accused of theft.”

Even local observers have taken notice of the cleaners and they've admitted that the whole situation is a mess.

Olympics - Previews - Day -1

“It is a mess. The companies that are involved are closing their eyes,” said a Brazilian volunteer inside the athletes’ village, who said all of the cleaners were Afro-Brazilians from poor backgrounds.

“The foreign service companies get a big contract and then pay this shameful amount of money because they choose the poorest workers. They couldn’t do that in Sydney and London but they do that in Brazil. I feel bad about that.”

The cleaners at the Olympic village are easy to spot. According to the Guardian, nearly all of them are black women dressed in blue uniforms.

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Topics:
Tyson Gay
Justin Gatlin
Athletics
Commonwealth Games
Usain Bolt
Olympics
Mo Farah

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