Cleaners have won higher wages, vocational training, language courses and a more transparent collective agreement. This is the outcome of a campaign that brought direct action to the ING and ABN Amro bank headquarters at the Zuidas and to Schiphol Airport.
Yesterday, trade union FNV Bondgenoten and employers’ organisation OSB reached a tentative agreement. Apart from the increase in wages, from 8.90 to 10.00 euro per hour next year, the contract contains a unique agreement on integration courses for new workers.
The campaign itself was unique too, at least for the Netherlands. A combination of grass roots organising, direct action and broad coalitions brought pressure on the employers and their contractors.
In Amsterdam, cleaners and activists accompanied by a samba band and rebel clowns stormed the ING Bank headquarters and gave a guerrilla concert at Schiphol Airport. Last week, cleaners went on a millionaires tour, visiting the houses of the richest bosses of cleaning companies.
The organising campaign will not stop once union members have approved the new contract. Worker activists will be trained to enforce the new agreement and to campaign on workplace issues. In addition, contractors of cleaning companies will be encouraged to adopt socially responsible contractor policies.
Next Saturday, the cleaners’ campaign will be among the examples to be discussed at a meeting on new urban trade union campaigns at de Balie, which will also be broadcast on the internet.
FNV Bondgenoten (in Dutch), campaign website, de Balie