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CSR commitment by FEP25th of November 2010
The French cleaning federation is encouraging sustainable business, explains correspondent Christian Bouzols.
The French cleaning federation (Fédération des Entreprises de Propreté & Services Associés - FEP) is the only employer organisation in the country that helps businesses to meet their corporate social responsibilities. In all the regions it has set up schemes to help cleaning company managers to better practise sustainable development.
The French cleaning sector has for quite some time taken its social responsibility seriously by investing in the training and integration of its employees. This sector is one of services and intensive labour. Almost 70 per cent of its workers are employed part time and work staggered hours, being called to duty early in the morning or late in the evening at the express request of their customers. Despite this, cleaning jobs can be considered as stable work since 83 per cent of workers in the sector are under open-ended contracts. Their having to work part time is not their choice but a constraint made necessary by the operations of their customers.
At least 30 to 40 per cent of cleaning workers have several employers. This situation has been brought about by a provision in the collective bargaining agreement stipulating that when a customer company calls on the services of another cleaning contractor, the workers that had been on the job have to be retained by that new cleaning contractor. This provision has contributed to job stability in the cleaning sector.
Among all the cleaning workers that work part time, 45 per cent say they had in fact chosen to work such hours. Given those circumstances, the French cleaning federation is currently thinking about how to change and improve the current way work is organised.
It is also implementing training policies designed to help people with little or no qualifications to integrate into the workplace. It has given priority to continuing education, with the result that some 60,000 cleaning operators get 1.4 millions hours of training every year. Efforts are also being made to help workers with poor knowledge of French to understand their instruction manuals. Furthermore the sector has set up a structured approach to the employment of handicapped people. Finally, more than 6,000 young people each year undertake the various cleaning diplomas available, from the certificate of vocational aptitude to a master’s degree.
In 2007, the two sides of the industry agreed on a new professional qualification certificate (CQP – Certificat de qualification professionnelle) which can be obtained on the job and is complementary to certificates obtained in the classroom. This professional qualification enables people with no diplomas to be certified and thus be recognised for their skills.
Sustainable development is another area where more work can be done, particularly concerning the environment. The various stakeholders have an opportunity here to review what their responsibilities are.
The FEP has therefore decided to launch a sustainable development programme in which all cleaning companies are invited to participate, and the federation is prepared to help them to do that. This programme has four main goals :
• Health and quality of life.
• Social commitment.
• Preserving resources and protecting the environment.
• Contributing to the aims of local authorities.