Parties to ISS partnership deal seek to improve cleaning industry's image

In June 1999, it was reported that the Irish subsidiary of ISS, the Danish-based cleaning multinational, had concluded what has been described as a "ground-breaking" partnership deal with the SIPTU trade union.

Ireland's largest trade union, SIPTU, and the Danish-owned multinational cleaning company, ISS, have concluded a formal "partnership" agreement, believed to be the first of its kind within the industry, it was reported in June 1999. The company has been in business for almost 100 years, starting as a small security operation in Denmark, and is currently a major Europe-wide company, with important operations in Asia and South America, and has over 100,000 employees worldwide. When ISS established its European Works Council in 1995, it was one of the first such bodies in the services sector to include representation from Ireland. ISS is the second-largest contract cleaning company in Ireland but it has a very high rate of turnover among its 2,500 staff, which it is urgently seeking to address. The new agreement, which is also aimed at staff retention, is likely to be examined by other firms with high staff turnover problems.

The partnership agreement "is based on the trust that arises from openness, consultation and participation between management, workers and their representatives", according to ISS. One of its aims is to improve communications in general, and in particular, to ensure the speedy and amicable resolution of any grievances. ISS aims to ensure that all employees are aware of its recognition of SIPTU through company newsletters and notification of new staff. The company also supports the proposed statutory national minimum wage, expected to be introduced in April 2000 at an hourly rate of between IEP 4.40 and IEP 4.80 (IE9804246F)

SIPTU's regional secretary, Jack Nash said that by working together, "we expect to improve the image, practice and prospects of the cleaning and contract service industry in Ireland, add value to the service offered to customers and also improve the longer-term prospects and work conditions of our members."

The company's managing director, David Healy, said there were very few agreements of this kind elsewhere: "ISS Ireland prides itself on its partnership ethic, which we believe is a key factor in the success of our relationships with clients. We hope to work together with SIPTU to improve the image, practice and prospects of cleaning in Ireland."

The ISS Aim 2002 project - formally launched in Dublin on 14 June 1999 - sets out the company's strategic vision, which includes a commitment to enhanced job security, fair pay and improving the career prospects of employees. However, the company also insists on the need for change, a position which SIPTU says that it understands.

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