Around 200 cleaners who maintain Ghent University buildings will soon get a minimum wage of € 14. This was determined by the Ghent University Board of Directors. They also get extra vacation days and some other extra benefits, but there is no internal source, as requested by the Socialist Union ACOD,.
Since 2018, ACOD has been campaigning for the minimum wage under the slogan “Fight for 14 Euros” and the union wants the university to hire cleaning staff. This requirement led to social unrest in 2020 and included a working day at Ghent University and the university new requirements in public bidding procedures.
Seven companies registered to win the cleaning job. Based on five new criteria, ISS, the company responsible for cleaning today, was once again named the best candidate. From September 1, the contract will be extended by at least one year, although social conditions also translate into a higher cost rate for the university.
“This will increase cleaning costs at Ghent University by 4 percent year-on-year,” says Rick Van de Wally. “We are making an effort financially because we consider better working conditions to be very important in the lower wage sector in general.”
The ISS will pay its employees at Ghent University better wages and give the cleaning staff two paid days: one day in Dies Natalis and the other as a bridge after the day of boarding. All employees over the age of 50 receive a maximum of three additional days: one day from the age of 50, two days from the age of 55, and three days from the age of 60. Payment for transportation costs is supplemented by a bicycle repair service and a contribution to parking costs for those who come by car.
ACOD describes the decision as a “big step forward”, but sees room for improvement and does not indicate on Wednesday that it will end social conflict at Ghent University. The fact that the university has succeeded in imposing better conditions in the Strip is well received.
Actor Tim Goosen said, “The fact that the ISS has been willing to offer better terms and conditions is indeed the first major success of our campaign.” “We have confirmed an improvement in wages and working conditions, but it is limited.” For example, a trade union indicates differences in seniority systems.
But the union player has doubts about the financial advantage that outsourcing will bring. “If the additional cleaning tasks that Ghent University requires throughout the year are taken into account, it appears that internal sourcing will not only be better for the cleaning staff but also cheaper for Ghent,” Joosen believes.