Hong Kong’s unsung frontline workers carry on cleaning, serving, keeping Covid-19 at bay under more risks, less pay

Hong Kong’s unsung frontline workers carry on cleaning, serving, keeping Covid-19 at bay under more risks, less pay

  • Call for more protection, screening for staff who face public and are tasked to disinfect areas with Covid-19 cases
  • ‘Nobody recognises the work we do,’ laments stressed cleaner, whose fearful colleagues quit

Cleaner Chiu has not missed a day of work since the Covid-19 outbreak started, despite seeing some of his colleagues giving up for fear of infection.

The 53-year-old, in the job for more than 20 years, cleans residential and commercial buildings, as well as shopping malls in Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay and North Point. Asking to be identified by only his surname, he says the work is strenuous and underappreciated, but the pandemic has made it more challenging.

He says he has never experienced such intense stress at work, from the increased workload and fear of becoming sick. Although he has persevered, he is disappointed in the lack of acknowledgement for the efforts of workers like him.

“Cleaners contribute to the city’s anti-pandemic efforts, but nobody recognises it. We are regarded as low-class workers,” he says.He is among the frontline workers who keep the city functioning, even as what they do puts them at higher risk of infection as Hong Kong battles a severe third wave of Covid-19 cases.