Major Victory for Dutch Cleaners (vom 20.02.2008),
URL:, besucht am 15.07.2024

[20. Feb 2008]

Major Victory for Dutch Cleaners

After more than a year of organizing, building broad community support, and doing strategic direct actions against key Dutch multinational corporations and public ministries cleaners and their families, mainly migrants from Morocco, Turkey, Suriname, Ghana, Capo Verde, and Latin America won a breakthrough contract.

Message from the Netherlands

We won 10 euros an hour for everyone starting on January 1st 2009. Workers above 8 years seniority will get the 10 euros in April of this year while everyone else will go from $8.50 to $9.70 an hour in April as well. We got an extra paid holiday, additional travel pay increase, Dutch language and vocational training on company time for every worker, initial language to protect staffing levels upon contract change and organizing rights such as full access to all sites without company intervention. This will allow workers to organize themselves better.

The contract will cost employers and clients 135 million euros. This is a national agreement covering between 130 to 150,000 cleaners.

We are elated! Although some of us expected further escalation (a one day strike) which would have helped increase the membership and worker ownership the employers clearly did not want further actions. They came close enough to our demands that our bargaining team (made up of our most active leaders per city) decided to arrive to a tentative agreement.

National worker brigades did many client delegations, leafletings, picketings and a "millionaire country tour" action in the south of the country visiting the homes of 3 of the top cleaning company owners the day bargaining resumed.

Now we have a lot of work ahead of us. We will be meeting (locally and nationally) to ratify the contract, evaluate the campaign, and celebrate our victory. Then our plan is to train all activists on "contract enforcement and issue fighting" to continue developing their organizing capacity and sustainability. We will also spend the next 2 months visiting all work sites to explain the contract, push for membership and identify work site issues to campaign around.

The growing network of supporters will continue to work with cleaners to fight for more full time work, but we hope to expand our work in support of domestic workers and other migrant and precarious worker struggles in the future.

A victory for the cleaners: 10 euros and more! (Campaign Statement from January 2008)

The better contract for cleaners which we have fought for during the last months, is a fact! That’s what it looks like, after the negotiators of the employers gave in on 24th and 25th of january to our most important demands: an hourly wage of 10 euros, a better arrangement for travel expenses and language courses and on-the-job training for all those that need it.

The cleaners (those that are members of a union) will be informed this week about the details, and can cast their vote on the result. If a majority of them approves the result, the union negotiator will sign the actual agreement.

The new contract will be easier to understand, so that it is easier to use it in enforcing your and your colleagues’ rights.

It will be valid for 135.000 cleaners in the Netherlands. Despite the fact that a lot of people are working as cleaners, the hard core of this recent struggle were just 150-200 of them, who have been involved from the beginning to the end in the escalation of actions. This indicates that more real, meaningful improvements can be won if more people get involved and fight for them. However, this experience has shown that the question is not just whether you fight or not, but how you fight.

The coming months, the union organisers of FNV Bondgenoten will be training workers to maintain their self-organised power. That way they’ll be able to make sure that the new agreement is actually put in effect, and does not just remain a paper reality.

And even though this is a big victory, the fight ain’t really over. Not only cleaners need and demand better working conditions (and not all people who clean are covered by a cao, either!); so that is a bigger, longer fight. We will do our best to expand the coalitions that were built during this campaign to include more people and to support future struggles.

Coming Saturday, February 2nd we are having a debate in De Balie in Amsterdam about strategies and perspectives, titled :: Migrant / Media / Metropole. We will ask questions: how do we organise a creative and innovative struggle? Can we improve our cooperation and coalition building? What issues are central to labour struggles of today? (Debate and presentations are held in English language.)

We would like to invite everyone to come and discuss these questions here, and to celebrate this victory for the cleaners.

The program of the debate is here :: in Dutch and :: in English

The FNV union has informed cleaners with the following :: pamphlet (in Dutch).

Further information :: Schoonmakers Voor Een Betere Toekumst - Cleaners For a Better Future campaign