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A new Dutch collective agreement27th of June 2014
Nico Lemmens of ISS Facility Services in the Netherlands reports on negotiations for a new collective agreement.
Since last autumn the Dutch cleaning association OSB and the trades unions have been negotiating to reach agreement on a new collective labour agreement. The last one was agreed upon in April 2012, after a long period of dispute between unions and employers.
The deal consisted among other things of a substantial wage increase. Parties also entered into agreement about respect, training, pensions, work pressure and a structural approach towards
Now history seems to be repeating itself. The negotiations resulted in a deadlock when one of the unions left the negotiating table. The most important point of dispute is the matter of the so-called waiting days in case of sickness. During those first days of absence, employees do not receive compensation. The unions want to abolish them. The employers are setting conditions. Meanwhile the unions are organising strikes, especially with the Dutch railways - probably the largest buyer of cleaning services in the country.
In May the industry association OSB invited the unions for exploratory talks to get around the deadlock. After the breakdown of the negotiations by one of the unions and the continuing strikes and other actions a situation has persisted which is not in the interest of the employees, the cleaning companies or their customers.
OSB’s chairman and first negotiator Hans Simons was quoted as saying: “We would like to openly talk with the unions to find solutions. I am convinced that a new collective agreement is for the taking. It is possible to construct solutions that will be acceptable for all parties concerned, even on the delicate issue of absenteeism.
"I am therefore confident that we will be able to overcome our differences, on the basis of our joint responsibility for a healthy, strong and attractive industry. That would be in the interest of all parties concerned and especially in the interest of our 150,000 employees.”
In the meantime, employers offered a package during the current collective bargaining round that included:
• A pay rise in line with the average wage development in Dutch collective agreements in 2014, which is currently more than one per cent ;
• Partial elimination of waiting days in balance with continued wage payment during absenteeism. The average standard in the Netherlands is 170 per cent over two years, while the cleaning industry almost always paid 200 per cent. This continued payment should be lowered and be brought more in line with the average level.
• Employment and versatility - employers have made proposals to accommodate employees who are now working in relatively small part-time jobs and who want to increase and broaden their job and earn a higher income. The cleaning industry already pays wages at the level of 120 per cent of the statutory minimum wage .
• Vitality and health - the employers have produced a broad comprehensive proposal to reduce absenteeism, based on prevention, coaching and mobility.
Time will tell when and how parties will reach an agreement. We will keep you posted…