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VVD: social criteria for companies

15 November 2006 – Companies that work for the municipality must offer work placements or employ social assistance recipients. This principle must also apply to the 421 million euro the municipality spends on the Zuidas city extension, according to the Conservatives (VVD), Social-Democrats (PvdA) and Socialists (SP).

Various municipalities have successfully introduced contract compliance. This means that companies must meet social criteria in order to be eligible for municipal contracts, subsidies or permits. A large majority of the city council want a similar system introduced in Amsterdam, but Liberal-Democrats (D66) oppose the idea.

The municipality is considering introducing contract compliance, but for now wants to exclude companies that are active at the Zuidas. PvdA, VVD and SP see no reason to make an exception for these companies. Emre Ünver (PvdA): “If we have a contract compliance system that works, then we should apply it throughout the entire city”.

Frans Beishuizen (VVD) and Remine Alberts (SP) emphasise that there is no point in having contract compliance unless the municipality can impose sanctions on companies that fail to implement the agreed upon social measures. Alberts: “Companies will always try to escape their responsibility. There must be sanctions to enforce the agreements”.

Ünver is not yet sure about sanctions, but he does find that the municipality must monitor whether companies keep their promises. He will ask questions on the work and income committee as to the progress that has been made with the plans to introduce contract compliance.

Beishuizen, an expert on legal aspects of tendering, emphasizes that the conditions must comply with EU procurement directives. He further finds that the costs must be proportionate to the results. He is concerned that companies may charge higher costs when they have to offer work placements or employ unemployed people.

Rotterdam and Dordrecht have studied the financial consequences of contract compliance. They found that companies do not charge higher prices when social conditions apply. In order to remain competitive, they companies find creative solutions that do not exceed the intended budget.

“If there is research that shows that it does not push up prices, I would be very curious to see that”, Beishuizen said.

Council members further find that no unrealistic demands must be made on companies. Ünver: “An ICT-company may not have jobs for social assistance recipients. But such a company could offer work placements”.

Petra Hoogerwerf (D66) opposes contract compliance. The municipality must not force social behaviour on companies, but rely on their good intentions. The municipality can also offer support to companies that hire unemployed people. Other parties agree with the latter suggestion.

Among Amsterdammers, there is broad support for contract compliance. Last summer, a poll carried out by O+S showed that 74% find that companies that work for the municipality should hire unemployed people. There is even more support for a requirement to offer work placements: 86% support such a measure.

The Green Party (GroenLinks) and the Christian Democrats (CDA) were unable to answer questions on contract compliance because of election activities.



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