Too often, janitors in public buildings the world over are taken for granted. Nobody captured this phenomenon as vividly as film director Ken Loach in his movie Bread and Roses, in which a janitor expresses that she feels invisible.
Yesterday, students at Tel Aviv University made a sweeping gesture — quite literally — to show they appreciate their cleaning staff. Some 40 students relieved janitors of their duties, taking over their shifts and giving them a chance to rest.
The so-called upside down day was in honor of May Day. Haaretz reports that this isn’t the first time that Tel Aviv University students have organized an act of solidarity with janitors: In 2009 they successfully fought to keep janitors’ jobs and benefits when the university changed its contractor.
But while university cleaners got a chance to relax, teams that clean Israel’s streets are stressed. New noise pollution laws that have just taken effect have outlawed public use of leaf-blowing machines, meaning that municipal employees have to collect leaves manually. Local newspapers in Tel Aviv and Haifa report that the Union of Local Authorities is about to appeal to the High Court to intervene, filing what is thought to be the first ever Israeli High Court petition about a cleaning instrument.