New EFCI director aims to raise cleaning sector profile in Europe

26th of March 2019
New EFCI director aims to raise cleaning sector profile in Europe

Isabel Yglesias was appointed the new director of EFCI, the organisation representing the cleaning and facilities services sector across Europe, in summer 2018. She speaks to ECJ editor Michelle Marshall about its relaunch and ongoing projects for 2019.

Isabel Yglesias is a Spanish lawyer who worked in the private sector for 10 years before moving to Brussels to work for the European Commission. In the summer of 2018 she joined what was then called the European Federation of Cleaning Industries (EFCI), an umbrella organisation made up of contract cleaning associations from 15 EU member states - representing 240,000 contractors employing over 3.6 million people. Based in Brussels, it is EFCI’s job to represent the interests of the sector at EU level.

Yglesias’ first role when she joined was to drive a modernisation exercise – a new name, new corporate image, new offices, new logo and a new website. EFCI’s full name is now the European Cleaning and Facility Services Industry. While embracing the facility services aspects of the sector, Yglesias emphasises: “Cleaning is still at the core of our activities, we are simply recognising the additional services now being offered by our members.”

Directive involvement

In Brussels EFCI has a key role in representing the professional cleaning sector when new legislation is being developed. Currently there is the directive for transparent and predictable working conditions, for example, which is expected by the end of March. Other current regulatory issues include establishing an ecolabel for indoor cleaning services. “It is the responsibility of EFCI to convey any uncertainty our industry may have, and the possible challenges around implementing those directives,” explains Yglesias.

“I think our sector is quite advanced in those matters so we want to be very much involved in discussions.”

Yglesias is keen to ensure EFCI has the right profile, and clear tools and a mandate to act in front of those EU institutions. “Our members are also very enthusiastic about that,” she says, “and they want to be involved. The national contract cleaning associations want to have a relevant political voice in Brussels, and they want EFCI to become an effective representative here.”

Central platform

She is also aiming to develop the remit of EFCI so it becomes more of a central platform for the European sector - a place to exchange ideas on all aspects and offer knowledge. With this in mind the federation’s annual conference on June 28 in Brussels will be a much more open industry event than previous member gatherings. “We want it to be directly relevant to service companies – large and small.”

And of course one of Yglesias’ most important tasks is to make the professional cleaning sector more well known and better understood in the European Commission. “We will make sure that happens, because businesses in our industry must understand 80 per cent of national legislation comes from Brussels,” she explains.

“The cleaning industry has to be acknowledged in Brussels, it’s fundamental to EFCI’s success. We employ so many people in Europe and worldwide - that alone is a key factor.”

What are Yglesias’ first impressions of the cleaning industry as a newcomer? “I am particularly impressed with the efforts being made by cleaning and building services businesses to make their employees happy, to keep them in their job and to improve services for their clients,” she replies.

Meaningful work

Her other ongoing projects include the social dialogue and the Selecting Best Value guide, which was launched in 2017 as a guide for private and public organisations awarding contracts. EFCI developed it in conjunction with UNI Europa, the umbrella body for trade unions. Its aim is to assist buyers in their tendering process by highlighting the benefits of choosing quality services and it was funded by the European Commission.

“My task is to work on better deployment of the guide,” explains Yglesias. “We must make best use of it and ensure our sector is better known at national level in each country too. We plan to approach large clients, corporates, etc and use it as a tool to promote the cleaning industry, and the importance of not opting for the lowest price.”

Being at the helm of a organisation aiming to represent the interests of so many national associations - all with different structures and objectives - is certainly not an easy one, however Yglesias is looking forward to the challenge. “The most encouraging thing for me is that our members are very committed,” she concludes, “and I am convinced we can do fruitful policy work.”


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