Tours and tides in Norway's cleaning sector

23rd of December 2019
Tours and tides in Norway's cleaning sector

Scandinavian correspondent Lotte Printz brings a report on current affairs in the Norwegian industry.

“Good leaders encourage humour, social activities and having a bit of fun at work.” So, the text reads next to a picture of a laughing monkey on a slide presented by Ann Kristin Reinskau from Ny Vy. She is giving tips on successful management in the cleaning industry and is one of several speakers on a trade seminar tour around Norway this autumn organised by the Norwegian Association for Facility Services and Cleaning.

The tour was planned after members had asked the association to be more present locally and is mainly for management level, be it private or public sector, within the industry. In the seven towns NFSR is visiting this autumn, talks are given not only on successful management, but also on how to handle sick leave properly in the workplace. Other speakers will cover microplastics, environmental issues, sustainability and updates from the robot and digital worlds and, not least, there’ll be insights into using the latest INSTA 800 which was introduced in Norway this spring.

While NFSR is touring for the people upstairs, the Norwegian government brought good news for workers with few qualifications, likely including some cleaners. Last year a qualification upgrading pilot programme was launched on a national scale and across industries, enabling workers with years of practical experience an upgrade in general education or any basic skills needed, such as reading, writing, math and Norwegian.

Forecasts suggest that by 2030 there’ll be a shortage of skilled tradespeople in Norway of 100,000. Hence, in the middle of October the government announced that it would grant €1.5 million to enable more adult workers to qualify for trade-specific vocational education:

“We must prepare people for the future labour market. And with a vocational education diploma you’ll have a higher level of job security and can make important contributions in your trade,” the minister in charge of this area, Jan Tore Sanner, said in a government press release.

Turn of the tide?

From good news to bad – or rather: what first seemed like bad news for cleaners carrying out cleaning jobs at various premises a day, and which sent shock waves into the Norwegian Union of General Workers (NAF), has seen a more positive development. For ISS cleaners at least. In August 2019, a Norwegian Labour Court (Arbeitsretten) decision ruled in favour of employers in the cleaning industry, stipulating that employers were not obliged to pay those cleaners for time spent on the road between tasks.

For these cleaners this could mean receiving wages for only five hours of a working day lasting nine, NAF proclaimed furiously after the decision was passed. But then, in October, the leading facility service provider, ISS in Norway, publicly announced it has no intention of changing its payment policy: despite the ruling, it will continue paying these cleaners for the time they spend moving from one job to another.

But by the time ECJ went to press, ISS was the only service provider to strictly hold on to that policy. When asked by the trade union magazine ‘The Worker’, most other leading service providers and cleaning companies in Norway replied they had not had time to evaluate the ruling, but generally stick to current practice, rules and regulations.


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