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‘Airport dumps sick cleaners’

19 April 2007 - Cleaning companies at Schiphol Airport try to get rid of sick cleaners by assigning them to heavy cleaning jobs, says Herrie Hoogenboom of trade union FNV Bondgenoten, who tries to organise the cleaners.

“When cleaners are sick, the boss calls them at home. He will let the telephone ring only once or twice, then hangs up and later says that the cleaner was not home. Then he will not get paid”, said Hoogenboom in an interview with de Fabel van de Illegaal magazine.

“If after having been ill he gradually starts to work again, he will be pressurised to sign a contract for fewer hours. Then if he falls sick again or is fired, the boss will have to pay fewer hours. And if people are sick more often, they will be assigned to heavy cleaning jobs. The boss hopes they cannot cope and have to resign. In this way, less productive workers are being dumped”.

“Many immigrants working at Schiphol as cleaners have followed an education in their country of origin, but here they end up at the lowest ring of the ladder. Cleaning is the lowest paid job for workers. If they loose that, they have nothing left”.

They should not expect too much from their employer: “Most of the time, they do not offer them language courses and other courses to help them get ahead. The cleaners themselves do not know how to escape their condition. They do not live in a social environment that offers opportunities and they do not have networks that help them get ahead”.


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