Willem Dekker

Letter from the Netherlands

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After the longest strike since 1933, cleaners, most of them from migrant backgrounds, won, writes Willem Dekker.

Competition in the cleaning sector, fully privatised by the end of the 1990s, has been driving wages down and work pressure up. In the summer of 2009 cleaners, most of whom come from a migrant background, launched a campaign for higher wages, better working conditions and more respect from management. The campaign raised the stakes of industrial conflict. If cleaners could get a raise - why couldn't other workers? The campaign became a model for multicultural resistance against the cutbacks.

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