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Safeguarding the Polish cleaning sector28th of November 2011
Poland reporter Marek Kowalski asks how the cleaning sector can survive the economic crisis.
The whole of Europe is struggling with a crisis. Politicians meet at another summit wondering how to rescue the European economy and the common currency. Bankruptcy is looming over a number of European economies.
How about the cleaning industry? Although it is the rule that crisis triggers the growth of interest in outsourcing services, it is also true that margins reduce rapidly. So with increased turnover, profits go down. The biggest problem for the cleaning services market in Poland is public tender law where the only criterion taken into account is price.
If we add to that the real drop in contract value we have got a full insight in the current state of the business. Underpaid, dissatisfied employees, working at 50 per cent of their potential. Entrepreneurs fighting for tenders and winning them at the brink of profitability hoping for the better days which are not bound to happen anytime soon.
What is waiting ahead? I am afraid current service price levels will stay with us for the years to come whether the EU recovers or not.
The Polish Cleaning Industry Chamber has adopted a four-year preventive programme which aims at safe crisis recovery. It is based on the following assumptions:
•Educational activities aimed at the service recipients – the goal is to persuade cleaning services clients that ‘more expensive’ in terms of facility management means, in fact, cheaper. The programme carried out together with Train Station Department of Polish Railways made us convinced that it is possible.
•Powerful lobbying for the amendments in the public tender laws.
•Supporting our own candidates for the elections to the national and the EU parliament. We aim to elicit a group of candidates from the cleaning industry in order to run in the elections in 2014 to the EU parliament and in 2015 to the national assembly.
I know the programme is very ambitious but the experience gained from lobbying and cooperating with the government gives us a real chance of success. A quantitative study has shown we could win three to five representatives in both the EU and the national parliaments. Assuming they start working in the right committees, they can be a real power influencing the most important laws relevant to our industry such as taxes, services, labour laws, public tenders, jobs for the disabled, EU funds.
Many readers may think the ideas here are too far fetched or impossible to achieve for business associations. It is hard for me to express the voice of the EU community but as our Polish experience shows, the risk is worth taking. Our industry is so optimistic about success that most of the companies in the Polish Cleaning Industry Chamber have invested in it.
If all of the ideas mentioned here are successful, it may become the recipe not only for surviving the crisis, which is bound to hit us all anyway, but also a way of strengthening