Cleaners’ ID cards debate in Denmark

22nd of September 2014
Cleaners’ ID cards debate in Denmark

A highly publicised case about nine Romanians cleaners who were kept in a garage without toilet and running water, is one of the reasons why Danish employers and Danish labour union 3F have made demands for the introduction of a compulsory ID card for all employees in the cleaning industry. ECJ correspondent Petra Sjouwerman reports.

In the so-called Garage Case earlier this year, two cleaning bosses were convicted to two and to two-and-a-half years in prison. During the court case it emerged that a group of Romanians were forced to work under slave-like conditions for about 400 euros per month for a more than full-time job. Between 2007 and 2013 they had done cleaning jobs at primary schools, kindergartens and in private companies. 

Recently the Danish centre-left government has approved the introduction of a compulsory ID card for employees in the construction industry. They must carry their ID at all times. Why don’t we use this in the cleaning industry, asked several Danish employers from the industry. 

Side by side with the Danish labour union 3F, Danish employers now demand the introduction of a compulsory ID card for the cleaning industry. According to them a compulsory ID card for all employees is the best weapon against social dumping.

In the meantime, neighbouring country Norway has put a lot of effort and prominence into the fight against social dumping. About one year ago Norway introduced the compulsory ID card for the cleaning industry, much to the satisfaction of both employers and employees.

“It is an important remedy against social dumping and tax evasion,” stated Trond Erik Thorvaldsen earlier this year. Thorvaldsen is communications manager for the Norwegian union Norsk Arbeidsmandsforbund (NAF).

The Norwegian employers’ association NHO Service shares this view. “The ID card is a must and a success, even though it takes a while to get it incorporated,” Petter Furulund, director of the association, added.

However, a number of Danish cleaning companies consider the ID card as ‘unnecessary bureaucracy’. Petter Furulund does not agree: “With this ID card it has become difficult for cleaning companies to evade tax. Therefore, we think that the bureaucracy is worth the time and money,” he declared.

No burden

Denmark’s second largest cleaning company, Forende Service, endorses the initiative. “We have worked with our own ID card for these past two years and we have not experienced it as a administrative burden,” said quality and security manager Jens Nielsen.

Denmark’s largest trade union 3F is happy about the positive feedback from employers.  “This is an important step in the right direction. The ID card is very high on our list,” says Tina Møller Madsen, 3F leader for the section Private, Hotel, Service and Restaurant.

Despite the strong political support for the ID card, not all parties support the idea. The biggest Danish political party Venstre (Liberal) is sceptical.

“Despite the experience of Norway, we still believe that it creates a high administrative cost, and it makes it more difficult to provide companies with the flexible labour force they need,” it says.


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