Time to take stock

29th of June 2011
Time to take stock

In France, the cleaning associations have been holding their annual general meetings, reports Christian Bouzols.

It's been the time of the year when French cleaning associations, both national and regional, held their annual general meetings and took stock of their activities over the past 12 months. The Regional Chamber of Cleaning Companies in south-eastern France has just held its AGM. Daniel Herrero, the former French national rugby team coach, was its keynote speaker.

This assembly was an opportunity to reflect on the recent progress of the cleaning sector in a part of France which, despite its good weather, has a very high incidence of unemployment (1.4 per cent above the national average in the PACA Région and 3.4 per cent in the Languedoc Roussillon Région) which gives the cleaning sector added economic and social importance. The AGM was told the nearly 50,000 cleaning workers and over 2,100 cleaning businesses in the two regions represented 1.66 per cent of their workforce and 13 per cent of their companies.

The cleaning sector in the south of France has been very much involved in the social area. It has been constantly promoting the training of its workers to give them more employment security, particularly by offering them the opportunity to obtain professional qualifications. Minimum cleaning wages in that part of the country are, at 9.22 euros an hour, three per cent higher then the national minimum. Cleaning companies have also pursued their efforts to teach language and writing skills to their many workers of foreign origin.

As Daniel Herrero reflected on the challenges cleaning companies had to face, many of which were recurring problems, but where companies often had to deal with issues beyond their control. Companies had to work together in the same spirit as a rugby team, inspired by similar values and the same sense of cohesion. He called on cleaning company bosses not to work in isolation but to join forces within professional organisations as this would be the best way for them to carry out their daily responsibilities.

Training responsibilities

On a national level, the federation of cleaning companies (FEP) also held its AGM and talked about similar issues. With a labour force of 433,000, the cleaning sector represents 2.65 per cent of the working population in France. The debates at this AGM showed the extent to which French cleaning companies take their social responsibilities seriously, particularly in contributing to the training of their workers.

No fewer than 90,000 cleaners got some training across the country last year. In addition to training concerns, FEP also intends to fight for the environment. A third of the workers it represents, which is over 130,000 people, were involved last year in 51 sustainable development projects.

While cleaning representatives in the South got a motivational speech from a former rugby star, those in the North under the aegis of FEP heard a speech by the philosopher André Comte-Sponville, who is very well known in France. The title of his address was 'The meaning of work, happiness and motivation: philosophy of management'. This inspiring title pointed to shared values and also to the advantages of cleaning entrepreneurs not working in isolation but joining with professional associations.


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