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Barbara Pokryszk recalls humiliating daily queues for work at the Hilton London Metropole – with those at the back turned away empty-handed
Barbara Pokryszka cleaned 15,000 hotel rooms as a chamber maid.
And every day she started work at the Hilton London Metropole, she was forced to go through a demeaning morning ritual.
By 7.40am, maids had to report to the office where cleaning buckets and lists were handed out. No one wanted to be last in the queue in case there wasn’t work for them that day.
“It was so humiliating,” Barbara says, tears in her eyes. “Some of the women would get hit with the buckets because there wasn’t enough space and the agency supervisors would laugh at us.”
Barbara says the lucky ones would go on to work up to 12 hours for around £50 a day, which she says often worked out below the minimum wage. Two or three women would get sent home with nothing.
“I was often punished because I tried to say what you are doing is wrong,” claims Barbara, 38, an arts graduate from near Krakov, Poland.
“Then you would be sent home ‘on stand-by’. That is how they controlled the girls. If you make trouble, no work for you, sometimes for weeks.”