Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Victory for cleaners after 105 days

A 105-day strike has brought the cleaners success. They get a 4.85% wage rise; better training, frequent workload assessments and more security for agency workers. Also, an important step has been taken towards a better treatment of sick cleaners. This is the outcome of a meeting of the cleaning bosses and the cleaners’ union last night.

On Tuesday, the cleaners on strike will take a vote on the agreement. The cleaners launched their strike on 2 January 2012. Lasting over 15 weeks, the strike developed into the longest Dutch sector strike since 1933. In order to achieve their goal, the cleaners held 10 Marches of Respect, convinced major clients such as Dutch Railways, Schiphol Airport and the Erasmus Medical Centre and received support from many Dutch people, including celebrities such as TV host Matthijs van Nieuwkerk and elite watcher Jort Kelder.

Climbing the ladder
“No one can ignore us now. In times of economic adversity, we managed to climb the ladder. We haven’t reach the top yet by far, but we’re no longer down”, a proud Khadija Tahiri said. Tahiri is a hospital cleaner and the elected President of the Cleaners’ Union. “We may have won the highest wage increase in the Netherlands, but we’re mostly proud of the respect agreements on workload, training, agency staff and treatment of sick workers.”

Long strike, impressive result
The result of the ‘Longest strike since 1933’ is impressive. In addition to a 4.85% wage increase over two years, the cleaners reached agreements on training, more job security for agency workers and better treatment of sick workers. It has also been agreed that frequent workload assessments will take place. The cleaners have fought long fro a better treatment of sick workers. “For over 20 years, it has been tried to get a normal sick leave arrangement. As a result of the 15-week strike, we can now take an important step. In a pilot, a better sick leave arrangement will be tested, with sick pay. This is not about wages, but about respect”, Tahiri said.

On the sick leave arrangement, parties agreed: there will be a broad and careful experiment to improve the sick leave arrangement. The cleaning industry will commit to the unequivocal research findings.

One more March of Respect
Today, thousands of striking cleaners will vote on the agreement. The will decide whether it is sufficient to end the strike. Also, they will walk one more March of Respect. “This is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to anyone who has supported us. Clients who stuck their neck out, like Dutch Railways, Schiphol and Erasmus MC, but also people across the country. From Amsterdam to Maastricht. From Jort Kelder to sympathising home care workers”, Tahiri said.

Source: FNV Bondgenoten press release

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