Beers, Burgers + Bleach

Beers, Burgers + Bleach is a collaborative project responding to rapidly changing circumstances in the hospitality sector for staff and customers. In our research, we explored the labour involved in the new hygiene routines imposed due to the Covid-19 outbreak, with particular attention on the cleaning and monitoring of toilets, and the impact of these developments on the lives of hospitality staff. This project was funded by the University of Exeter’s Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health (WCCEH), and led by Charlotte Jones, Lauren White, Jen Slater and Jill Pluquailec, in close collaboration with hospitality workers, trade unions and local campaigns. Our report (below) shares the research findings from solicited work diaries and interviews with 21 participants in the UK between 2020-2021. You can find out more about the participant demographics here.

Front cover of the Beers, Burgers + Bleach report. An orange background with the silhouettes of chairs and tables. In the foreground, five hospitality workers pose back to back in super hero/action poses - equipped with cloths, sprays, spatulas, masks and brooms.

Please click here to download or view our report as a PDF, or click here to view the report as an interactive flipbook.

Link to Eventbrite page: Yellow image reads: The Beers, Burgers + Bleach Podcast. A border of sauce bottles.

As part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science, we launched the Beers, Burgers + Bleach podcast mini-series, containing three episodes: 1) Struggles, 2) Solidarities, and 3) Sanitation (available below). The podcast is based on our research about hygiene, hospitality, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’re thankful to all our guest speakers, our project advisory group and participants, the podcast producer Kitty Turner, and our funders, the ESRC and the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health.

Episode 1: Struggles
How have hospitality workers’ roles changed throughout the pandemic? Do the new safety regulations come at any cost to the workers, and how can their rights be protected? In this episode, we meet with two hospitality workers to discuss some of the challenges of working in the hospitality sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click here for a full transcript of episode one, ‘Struggles’.

Episode 2: Solidarities
In this episode, we discuss union organisation, community, and activism in the hospitality sector. We meet with Rohan Kon, organiser of the Sheffield Needs a Pay Rise campaign, a local movement of low wage workers; and Rebekah Akingbala, a unionised hospitality worker, who recently left the industry. Together we discuss some of the wins and demands made by workers over the past year; explore some of the difficulties of organising during a public health crisis; and ask what might be done to achieve better conditions for hospitality workers in the future.

Click here for a full transcript of episode two, ‘Solidarities’.

Episode 3: Sanitation
In this final episode, we explore the connections between public health and cleaning labour, and the impact of public toilet closures on hospitality workers, occurring due to council funding cuts over the last two decades and, more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re joined by hospitality workers to discuss the accessibility and availability of public toilets in the UK, and consider what it means for us to become increasingly reliant on hospitality toilets when out and about. We also take a look at how this project connects back to our earlier Around the Toilet research.

Click here for a full transcript of episode three, ‘Sanitation’.

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