South Africa - land of opportunity

28th of October 2011
South Africa - land of opportunity
South Africa - land of opportunity

Clive Damonze, chairman of the National Contract Cleaners Association (NCCA) of South Africa, offers ECJ an exclusive overview of the contract cleaning sector in this rapidly-developing country.

The National Contract Cleaning Association of South Africa (NCCA) continues to grow from strength to strength and next year (2012) we celebrate our 25th year anniversary as an association.  Our current membership stands at around 420 companies.

As an association, more and more we are being recognised and accepted as the professional body and custodians of the cleaning industry in South Africa. Many corporate companies and government departments are consulting with us regarding tender documentation and services level agreements before going out to tender - we would obviously advise them that NCCA members be invited to ensure compliance. The NCCA is currently piloting a compliance audit on its members. It’s encouraging to witness the number of companies volunteering to participate in the audit process.

Technology and product innovation within the cleaning industry remain ongoing - new machines and floor care products are coming from Europe and America. Currently emphasis is placed on steam cleaning equipment, with the intention of to saving water. I also noticed at recent shows in Poland and Italy that energy efficient cleaning equipment, which uses 50 per cent less energy than previous models, is also in the limelight. These machines perform the same functions as older machines that use more energy.

Also chemical products such as floor sealers, surface sanitisers, hand drying and window cleaning equipment have been vastly improved. 'Green' cleaning is the most talked about topic and everyone is working hard at developing green equipment and chemicals, to ensure sustainability for our industry.

NCCA is currently busy compiling a Green Cleaning policy for our industry which we are benchmarking with policies from other countries more advanced in this field.

The NCCA has also formed an international alliance with ISSA, the worldwide cleaning association. This has proven to be very beneficial with regards to information sharing for us, formulating cleaning related policies and being part of a global network. Together we are working on a booklet, The African Business Guide, which is aimed at the cleaning industry and we intend to launch that locally during February 2012 and at the ISSA/INTERCLEAN show in Amsterdam in Ma of next year. The booklet will be aimed at an international audience with the hope of attracting investment in the manufacturing field of cleaning equipment, especially scrubbing machines, vacuums and washroom dispensers.

Industry statistics

The industry employs approximately 100,000 cleaners with a gender split of two females to every male and the annual turnover of outsourced cleaning services is in excess of R2.5 billion (0.23 billion euros).

There are approximately 1,750 contract cleaning companies countrywide, of which 400 belong to the NCCA. A couple of larger companies employ between 18,000 and 20,000 cleaners. Many medium sized companies employ approximately 1,000 plus cleaners and 60 to 70 per cent of the cleaning industry comprises small to micro enterprises, employing 10, 20 or 50-plus cleaners.

This area of the market still has growth potential, judging by statistics that indicate small businesses contribute up to 50 per cent of the GDP in developed countries except for Asia - which is 40 per cent - whereas in South Africa they contribute approximately 35 per cent.

In the South African market, 50 per cent of cleaning is still performed in-house. However statistics show that there is a significant growth rate per annum as more and more cleaning work is outsourced and membership of the NCCA increases.

NCCA code of ethics

The association’s code of ethics are as follows:

•To provide appropriate services to meet customer needs, at prices economically viable to both parties.

•To employ competent staff and make them effective through training and the provision of suitable equipment and materials.

•To respect competitors with a spirit of free enterprise.

•To promote the industry through professionalism at all levels.

•To comply with the statutes and the association’s constitutionand to be open to audits in order to ensure compliance.

The NCCA’s aims and objectives include:

•To show support to its members

•To increase visibility in targeted media, including promoting the association’s own website.

We also focus on the benefits of outsourcing which are:

•Clients can focus on their core business.

• Contractors’ core business is cleaning.

•Contractors outlay the capital.

•Clients are released from administration.

•Contractors develop specifications with clients.

•Contractors are responsible for maintaining specifications.

in recent years we have experienced serious demand for higher cleaning standards and, as a result, it became apparent that contract cleaning companies are  required to ensure high levels of service, efficiency and conduct.

We want our clients to feel secure in the knowledge that our members are dedicated to providing a professional service.

NCCA members are required to comply with all statutory requirements relating to labour legislation, taxes and insurance requirements – inclusive of OHS Act compliance – and protect clients against third party liability.

Threats facing the industry

The industry in South Africa faces many challenges in the form of the current global economic situation where it has become increasingly difficult to achieve margins, hence the reason for cleaning companies to become creative and innovative with their business models and performance deliveries.

Other threats are:

•A negative perception prevails that cleaning is at the bottom of the rung of professions.

•Although well trained it remains a low paying industry.

•Non-compliance in terms of statutory requirements pertaining to minimum wage, bonuses and provident fund.

•Lack of best practice.

•The HIV and Aids pandemic.

•Shortage of skills in terms of cleaning supervisors, and cleaners for specialised cleaning eg, hospitals and catering facilities.

•Meeting requirements of the Employment Equity Act, and clarifying issues around Section 197 of the Labour Relations Act regarding transfer requirements of a contract to another contractor.

•The decision of clients to go back to in-house cleaning.

•Nepotism and corruption in awarding of contracts.

Our appeal as the NCCA to all procurement managers of corporate companies, local municipalities, parastatals, local government, tender boards is to do a proper due diligence to ensure they are employing companies complying with all statutory requirements. There are still certain companies which are not abiding by legislation. For this reason, we ask that service buyers ask for proof of compliance before appointing a service provider.

Skills development a priority

South Africa is a country filled with an abundance of opportunities for everyone. Those pursuing their goals in life must seize these opportunities. The concept of Sector Education Training Authorities(SETA’s), allows us to enhance our lives with the development of personal skills, even when opportunities are created outside our area of expertise.

Discovery is realised through your intuition and confidence, by believing in your own abilities. Learning and acquiring knowledge is absolutely vital to close the gap on the dearth of skills shortages across all industries in South Africa.

The establishment of ongoing benchmarking and research programmes remains important to ascertain the facts. This is also important in resolving our education challenges as well as the socio-economic problems facing ordinary South Africans. We must ensure that we do not reduce our commitment to training, especially during economically challenging periods.

Our skills programmes are regarded as being among the best in the world, a fact proven by the serious interest expressed by cleaning associations from other parts of the world.  I always emphasise the importance of all stakeholders’ support towards the cleaning industry’s training initiatives, such as recognition of prior learning (RPL) adult basic education and training in business practice - together with continuous professional development.

As the NCCA we are directly involved in the drawing up of a new five-year strategy plan and also fully support the government’s growth path for the country. With the current unemployment situation in South Africa, we are strongly promoting the fact that there is a future in cleaning, especially when one considers that the cleaning industry virtually cuts across every other industry.

Future projects and strategies

Future projects and strategies that will increase membership benefits include:

•Drafting a green maintenance policy for cleaning.

•The formation of a National Bargaining Council.

•Introduction of national standards.

•Industry benchmarking.

• Increased recognition of prior learning for cleaners.

•Integration of the physically disabled persons into the industry.

•Possibly hosting an ISSA/INTERCLEAN event in South Africa.

The NCCA has also being invited by ISSA to attend and participate in discussions regarding topical issues at the ISSA/INTERCLEAN North America exhibition in Las Vegas later this month.

Another exciting new development is the founding of the soon-to-be launched African Cleaning Institute, with the intention of embracing companies and other related associations from within South Africa as well as neighbouring African states - some who are already members of the NCCA. In South Africa we are inviting associations such as the laundry, carpet cleaning, dry cleaning, landscaping and raw chemical manufacturing associations to also be part of this new national entity.  It’s proposed that the African Cleaning Institute will function as the representative of all cleaning related affiliated associations of which the NCCA will also be an affiliated member.  The official launch of the ACI is planned for February 2012.

Future trends

•As mentioned above companies would have to be innovative and do things differently to create value add-on’s.

•Larger corporates will acquire smaller up companies.

•Medium size companies will have to amalgamate.

•Leveraging of global networks.

•The design of robotic and sensor driven machinery and equipment.

•The offering of diversified services that will complement a brand.

•The change of behavioural patterns in the use of electricity, water, chemicals, etc

•The development of cheaper green products, to make it easier for companies to contribute and fulfil their responsibility to the environmental challenges that we all face.

The success of the NCCA is attributed to its national membership of both cleaning contractor and supplier members of the industry, whose knowledge, skills, experience, integrity, resources and enthusiasm contribute actively to consistent workmanship and sustainable job  creation in an essentially labour intensive industry.


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