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Workers union slams abuses, calls for change

Published : 06 Jul 2020, 18:29

Updated : 07 Jul 2020, 03:05

  DF Report

Pixabay photo.

Service Union United-PAM and Real Estate Employers on Monday issued a statement condemning workers abuse in the cleaning sector.PAM and Real Estate Employers termed the abuses which came to light following Finnish language daily Helsingin Sanomat regrettable.

“We do not accept work-related exploitation in any form. It’s good that these problems have come to light so they can be acted on decisively,” said Jaana Ylitalo, PAM’s Collective Bargaining Director and Pia Gramén, CEO of Real Estate Employers in the official statement.

The organisations remind service customers of the responsibilities of customers under the law to check the background of their contractual partners.

To restore order to the sector it is extremely important that more attention is paid to overall tendering practices and procurement proficiency, also in the public debate. It is possible to source services on fair and responsible terms.

“Companies operate on the terms of the market and customers. If tendering focuses solely on low prices at the expense of quality and the cheapest bid is always chosen, this will contribute to creating unfair competition in the sector”, stressed Real Estate Employers’ Gramén.

Real Estate Employers and PAM proposed extending legislation on tax numbers to the entire facility services sector back in 2013. This needs to be implemented.

The organisations consider the extra resources proposed for official inspections and the police to be necessary and add that tightening up legislation to prevent the shadow economy would be an improvement to address the problems highlighted in the article.

“Expanding occupational safety resources and officials’ powers together with significant administrative sanctions would also assist the authorities”, Ylitalo stated.

Work-based exploitation can also be weeded out in sectors that use subcontracting by increasing the liability of customers or purchasers for ensuring that subcontracting businesses meet their wage and other obligations to their employees.

“The law should affirm the customer’s contractual liability so as to make the customer ultimately responsible, at least for the neglect of employer’s obligations and payment of wages by their immediate contractual partner,” said PAM’s Ylitalo and Real Estate Employers’ Gramén.

The majority of employees in the private facility service sector work in organised companies that operate responsibly. This was also clearly stated in the Helsingin Sanomat article.

It is relatively straightforward to set up a company offering cleaning services, however, and there are thousands of non-organised operators in the sector. There is also high turnover among cleaning companies, which is due to the competitive situation in the sector.

According to Ylitalo, one way to tackle the problems in outsourced services would be to amend procurement legislation so that recruitment criteria are factored into procurement decisions.

Real Estate Employers’ member companies are required to register with the Reliable Partner programme in the service, and member companies must ensure that their subcontractors also register with the programme.

“We have set out in the association’s rules that all member companies’ employees must have photo ID with a tax number. Companies are also bound by the association’s rules and ethical guidelines on things like employees’ wellbeing and safety at work,” stressed Real Estate Employers’ Gramén.