Thursday, 24 March 2016

George Monbiot has written a song inspired by this blog

Award-winning writer, Guardian journalist and activist George Monbiot has written a song inspired by this blog and the Dominique Strauss-Kahn scandal, where Nafissatou Diallo, an African muslim woman and single mother from Guinea working as room attendant in a Manhatten hotel, accused the former IMF chief with French presidential ambitions, of sexual assault against her as she cleaned his room.

It will be sung by folk singer and musician Ewan McLennan as part of a forthcomming joint album project.

Thankyou George for writing it. Thankyou Ewan for bringing the music to it and we look forward to hearing you sing it.

Abuse is a daily occurance for us, whether by the corporate system which pushes us into pain, poverty and depression through treating us like machines to work ever faster and for less money, or from supervisors harassing us and disrespecting us. All of this is invisible and normalised by the agencies and the hotels, and sadly the guests and wider society who are ignorant of what goes on.

We also face risks of unwanted attention and sexual assault by guests who think we are subservient and disposable - a bit like our employers do - due to our low status, lack of English, and our heavily gendered role of cleaning and 'home-making' in hotels, which can make us 'easy prey'.

We do this work for minimum wage, on zero hours, with no protection, or progression, and with nothing really between us, and them, except for a rape alarm.

That's why we need a #HotelUnionNow


Dirty Secret

Strive to be invisible, to vanish from their lives

The unseen hands that sweep away the night

Make it disappear

Then disappear myself

Ghost of the corridors

Consuming the detritus of lives I never see

I know their dirty secrets, the inner lives of people far from home

Remake the beds, rebuild the world before the Fall

My hands bleed from the work, but not a drop must touch the sheets.

Sixteen rooms a day, and nothing left behind

Four thousand miles away my children wait

To them I am a ghost, a shadow on the screen.

No one speaks my language here,

I smile and duck and seem to understand

The supervisor shouts. I nod.  

In the canteen the other ghosts just look and turn away.

The door slams open

Sorry sir, I say, and try to vanish from the room,

Leaving nothing but a smile.

He takes me by the shoulders

Sweat and beer and crumpled suit.

Pushes his tongue against my teeth

I shrink away, he shrugs and turns

Already I am gone, his mind scrubbed clean

Random female from Abroad, no dirt beneath his nails.

I know their dirty secrets

I am their dirty secret

I scrub sins from the passing world

Pack them in the trolley and push them to the lift

The sheet is clean, the day begins again

No human trace remains.