You hear the word “maid” being mentioned and you picture an overage nymphet in a miniskirt and a snow-white apron flirting with a hotel guest while sweeping the floor in his room. You are fundamentally wrong. The maids in Moscow hotels are not the girls of easy virtue, though dubbing them “girls” would be an exaggeration in terms of age group. Moscow hoteliers opt to hire women in their thirties for this highly sensitive job. These days Moscow’s female residents who meet the requirements have good opportunities for making a career in hotel business. According to experts, there will be great demand for maids in Moscow hotels in a short while.
There are more than 1.5 million women aged 35-55 in Moscow. About 500 thousand of them do not have a higher education, and therefore every third of them has difficulties when it comes to employment or career-making. The Moscow government can help the female Muscovites of the above category.
The Moscow government approved “The general plan for hotel development in the city of Moscow up to 2010.” The program provides for the construction of 248 state-of-the-art hotels in Russia’s capital. The hotels will be able to accommodate 98 thousand guests at a time.
Another 5 thousand travelers will be able to obtain board and lodging in boarding houses. According to forecasts, from 10 thousand to 20 thousands maids will be required to provide clean sheets and towels to an army of tourists. Moscow’s hotels are expected to feel the growing impact of a lack of staff when the Moskva and Intourist hotels are back into operation after the reconstruction.
“The Moscow government is planning to build more hotels and increase the number of five-star hotels in the capital,” says Natalia Militsa, a hospitality manager with the consulting company ANKOR, in an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda. “As for the quality of cleaning, the standards will be put higher, so the number of stuff will have to be increased. An estimate indicates the demand for maids will keep growing in the next 12-18 months,” says Natalia Militsa.
The position of maid is often a lifeline for yesterday’s happy wives i.e. the housewives who were raising children and keeping the hearth burning while their husbands were busy making money. They were confident that their quite happiness would go on forever. But the low-profile paradise got broken to smithereens on the day the husband announced he would leave for another woman.
Most of abandoned housewives soon realize that they can only make some money by working as nannies, salesclerks, or housekeepers.
“In many cases they don’t get paid as by their contract because there’s no contract, and promotion is highly unlikely in their cases,” says Natalia Militsa.
Desperate housewives are normally recommended to consider the position of a maid when they turn to recruitment agencies. Many of those women make excellent “housekeeping managers”, which are often paid wages well above the minimum customary standards.
The research company Tri Hospitality Consulting has released a report on profits of hotels based in the European capitals. The report indicates that the Moscow hotels generate the highest profits in Europe.
According to the report, the Moscow hoteliers’ operating profit during the “dead season” was twice as big as that of their Berlin counterparts did during the 2006 Football World Cup.
The authors of the report came up with a simple explication of this numerical difference.
The point is that the hoteliers in Moscow pay less money to their maids. For example, employees’ paychecks total 40% of the turnover in Paris and Berlin while the above payments in Moscow equal a mere 20%. The money underpaid to modest girls in aprons goes into the pockets of their employers who are already pretty rich, by and large. The high costs of staying in Moscow’s hotels also contribute to their profitability. On an average, a room in a hotel operated by a world-class hotel chain costs about 15,000 rubles or $566 per night – a lot higher than a night in a similar hotel elsewhere in Europe.
These days in Moscow, a female servant’s workday normally lasts 12 hours on a 2 days-on/2 days-off basis. Compensation includes 12,000 rubles a month plus medical insurance. The package does not look very impressive.
On the other hand, a nanny is paid the same wages working everyday. And nannies do not get any tips.
In terms of wages, at times it is not worthwhile seeking the position of maid in a world-class hotel. Not unlike in any other big company, candidates aim to get a job with such a hotel mostly out of career considerations i.e. a reference in CV. The owners of the hotels are well-aware of the circumstance, and therefore they feel somewhat reluctant to give their staff a raise. More frequently, they provide free meals and medical insurance. On the contrary, new and small-scale hotels are more interested in keeping their staff on the job. As a rule, maids in the above hotels are paid 4-5 thousand rubles over the average paycheck.
The maids speak out:
“Lena, my back-to-back, learned some English and got a job with a big international hotel. Once shefailed to notice the sign “Do not disturb” and entered the room. She woke up a sleeping foreigner as she slammed the door or something. Needless to say, the guest was pretty angry with her. He started shouting. Soon his interpreter came rushing into the room. As it turned out, the interpreter happened to live in Lena’s hometown before he moved abroad. Now Lena and that guy go steady every time his boss comes to Moscow. And his boss visits Moscow pretty often,” says Irina, a maid in a private hotel.
“I’m fed up with the “smart kids” and sauced businessmen on a short trip in town. Those businessmen are under the impression that a thousand rubles can make us ready and willing to render them “additional services.” Some of them even ask us out for an orgy. And those school kids just run wild on a night in the hotel. The “young talents” have recently taken a wheeled laundry container from a utility room and rode it up and down the corridor. The bastards scratched and dented the walls and wallpaper. As a result, the managers ordered that we pay a penalty for that incident,” says Lena.
Translated by Guerman Grachev