Dutch responsible conduct code encourages cleaning best practice

25th of November 2011
Dutch responsible conduct code encourages cleaning best practice

Earlier this year, the Dutch contract cleaning association OSB introduced a Code of Responsible Market Conduct for the cleaning and window cleaning sectors. This came about as a result of strike action by the country's cleaning staff early in 2010 and was drawn up by various industry organisations.

The Code of Responsible Market Conduct for the cleaning and window cleaning sectors in the Netherlands was introduced by the contract cleaning association OSB earlier this year. It's the result of a partnership between a industry organisations representing clients, employers, employees and consultants, and is an invitation to the industry as a whole to improve its conduct in the context of social responsibility - it is not compulsory.

The Code appeals to all parties concerned to be aware of corporate social responsibility, with the overall aim being to achieve more professional market competition, improvement of working conditions and enhancing the quality of production and work.

The cleaning and window cleaning sectors in the Netherlands employ 150,000 people and achieve a turnover of 4.3 billion euros. The market has seen healthy growth in recent years but problems have arisen because of the increasing focus on cost reduction, to the detriment of quality of work and working conditions.

Strike action by cleaners

These conditions led to well-publicised strike action by cleaning staff in the first quarter of 2010 - the main focal points of the disputes were workload, quality of work and treatment of employees by their superiors. There was also concern about deterioration of market relations due to reduced cleaning budgets, tough price competition and short-term contracts.

Committee approach

So a committee was formed with a view to improving the overall market situation. This comprised representatives from NS (Dutch railways), Schiphol airport, OSB contract cleaning association, VMS foundation for cleaning industry consultants, FMN Facility Management Netherland, FNV and CNV trades unions, ROC de Friesche Poort regional training centre, Erasmus MC University Medical Centre Rotterdam and the government.

The first part of the Code covers good client practice, whereby those clients inviting tenders are jointly responsible for the quality of work and the conditions under which it is carried out. This requires them to use the concept of the most economically favourable tender as a basis for awarding contracts, rather than lowest price. They must also stipulate to potential contractors compliance with the collective labour agreement, and with legislation and regulations - then monitor that compliance.

Clients also bear some responsibility for ensuring provision of comfortable working conditions for the contractor's staff. There should be regular dialogue with staff representatives from the service provider in order to evaluate workload and working conditions. And access must be provided to representatives from recognised trades unions.

The Code then addresses contract cleaning companies in their role as contractor and employer and covers points relating to their clients and staff. Those signing it must observe the greatest possible care when undertaking all aspects of their work, while adhering to all applicable legislation. Communication with clients and employees must be clear and open. Social aspects are also covered, in that there must be no employee discrimination; staff training and
development should be encouraged; and there must be an active health and safety policy in place.

Realistic tenders

Contractors are also required to base all tenders on realistic figures and in a way which allows them to fulfil their obligations in a responsible and professional way.

Employees are expected to make their own commitments under the Code, in that they must demonstrate dedication to their work and represent the sector in a positive way. They should be willing to undertake training, observe all relevant regulations and work in accordance with the client's codes of conduct.

As far as consultants are concerned, they are expected to be objective, transparent
and independent in their conduct, while exercising care in all procedures.

Associations and other industry organisations are expected to encourage their members to subscribe to the Code and it can be featured in training courses if relevant. All parties that have been involved in compiling the Code are expected to be responsible for enforcing it and ensuring compliance.

For more details, visit the website: www.osb.nl


Our Partners

  • ISSA Interclean
  • EFCI
  • EU-nited