Bert van der Spek

In his role as Secretary of International Relations/ Education at CNV Vakmensen, part of the National Federation of Christian Trade Unions (CNV), Bert van der Spek maintains contacts with representatives of European federations of building and woodworkers and with global trade unions in the building and woodworking sectors. He also serves as an auditor on behalf of Building and Woodworkers’ International (BWI).

In 2006, BAM signed a covenant with BWI, expressing its intention to conduct business operations in accordance with national and international legislation.

The substance of the framework agreement signed directly relates to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions. These address, for example, the right of all employees to be a member of a trade union, a ban on child labour and the promotion of healthy and safe working conditions.

Can you explain the value of the covenant with BWI?

‘The benefit is two-fold. As a trade union, it is essential for BAM to respect the basic rights of its workers around the world and to make efforts to ensure compliance with these rights. This work, however, requires contributions from both sides The agreement is of significant value to BAM, as it fits within the integrity policy of a company that aims to take its responsibilities to its employees seriously’.

How has the annual performance review of agreements gone?

‘A Reference Group, which includes representatives from CNV, FNV, BWI, BAM management and BAM employees, is handling the performance review to determine whether agreements have been met. BWI reports its findings, which are based on contacts with local trade unions in the countries where BAM is active. We visit on-going projects in a specific country about once a year. Drawing from meetings with all of BAM’s stakeholders (e.g. client, local trade unions and – of course – BAM employees), we assess whether the agreements on paper have made the shift to actual practice. As part of these review procedures, we went earlier for example to South Africa and Dubai and in 2011 to Tanzania to visit the Sumbawanga Road construction project. After local trade unions had difficulty gaining access to the project, agreements on points for improvement were made. The regional representative from BWI will monitor compliance.’

What should BAM keep on the agenda?

‘I’m very positive about the current form of cooperation. I think BAM is of the same mind. For this reason, I have every confidence that BAM will again extend the covenant, which has a term of two years. The relationship between migration and workers’ participation is a topic that may receive additional focus in the period to come. I’ve noticed that multinationals are increasingly focusing on this issue.’