“We faced”: in the shadows, housekeepers and cashiers continued to work, despite fear, meager salaries and lack of recognition
At 58, Karima * (first names have been changed) travels along Seine-Saint-Denis and part of Paris. She divides her time between home help and cleaning hours in private homes. “Personal service is not at all easy, as a lot of people think, she explains. I’m sorry for the world, but it’s still slavery. Cleaning is very, very difficult. “And not recognized. During the first confinement, imposed because of the Covid-19 coronavirus epidemic, Karima did not receive aid and she had to return to work.
“It’s much better to work: staying within four walls, it kills!”
She who travels in transport, goes to private individuals, says she is not afraid. At least not for her. “I’m afraid for others, she indicates. I turned down a couple because they are still 83 years old and they are more vulnerable than me. So I quit. “
Not easy to give up when she receives 900 to 1,200 euros per month for a rent of 600 euros in her apartment in Aubervilliers. And the Covid-19 has revealed the role of each and everyone. “We help relieve all this pressure during this period”, insists Farouzia *, who wants to keep her smile and her sense of hospitality at the checkout of the Parisian supermarket where she works.
“And yet it’s scary. We don’t know when we’re going to catch the disease and we come every day with fear in our stomachs.”
The first weeks of the epidemic, she and her colleagues had to work without a mask, because they could not find one. “In the cash register, generally, it is practically all women, who stayed, who worked courageously. Until they fell ill one after the other.” Farouzia herself fell ill at the end of March. Since then, protections and masks have arrived. But even today, this mother limits cuddles to her two children when she returns home. For a year, she has been managing. Like the others, she said: “I find that women are always strong. I’m not saying that men are not strong, eh! But we faced, and even if there are problems in front, we have to go. “
As the world celebrates International Women’s Rights Day, Karima, like Farouzia, would like to see the recognition and thanks come true. Karima wants to ask for a raise from the manager of the company that employs her. Farouzia is indignant against his management which modulated the Covid-19 bonus according to the hours of presence, including for those who fell ill and who touched less.