Quality marks and codes in the Netherlands

21st of June 2013
Quality marks and codes in the Netherlands

ECJ’s correspondent in the Netherlands Nico Lemmens takes a look at the plethora of quality marks and responsible conduct codes flooding the Dutch cleaning market.

The Dutch facility services sector is flooded with quality marks and codes of responsible conduct. The Code of Responsible Market Conduct in the Dutch cleaning industry has been made part of the recent so-called Social Agreement between the Dutch trades unions and the umbrella employers’ associations. The code is considered to serve as an example for tendering in general. The sectors of catering, security and temping are considering the introduction of similar codes of conduct.

The Dutch association for cleaning intermediaries is developing a certificate, mainly consisting of elements of responsible market conduct. The largest association of purchasers NEVI (more than 6,000 members) has developed its own code of conduct for its members. It contains ‘best practices’ for ethical purchasing dilemmas. Cornerstones are respectability, open competition, professionalism, objectivity and sustainability.

The largest association for facility management FMN and the Dutch Green Building Council have developed a code of conduct for ‘sustainable end users’, trying to encourage sustainable behaviour.

Back to the cleaning sector. There the Dutch association of cleaning companies OSB introduced a quality mark. All of its members were to obtain the mark not later than January 1 2013. When it became clear that many of them were not going to meet that deadline, a transitional arrangement was made: not later than May 1 2013 member companies were to have made a definitive commitment to obtain the quality mark. The outcome is that no less than 150 member companies have not made that commitment.

In OSB’s board meeting at the end of May they were due to be suspended from membership and nominated for expulsion during the December general meeting of OSB members. Beforehand the expectation was that 75 member companies were going to be expelled. With these 150 expulsions the association’s market share will decrease from 80 to 60 per cent.

The reverse side of the coin is that 179 cleaning companies have shown their interest in becoming an OSB member. Chairman Hans Simons expects his organisation’s market share to recover to 70 or 75 per cent by the end of 2014. His association is willing to pay the price of this loss of market share and will stay focused on quality instead of quantity.


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