Major Victory for Dutch Cleaners

A victory for the cleaners: 10 euros and more!

02.Feb.08 - 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.

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.

Si se pudo!