Asito, CSU, Hago and GOM. But always Asah

He has been working at TU Delft for 15 years, but always with a different logo on his shirt. Why doesn’t TU Delft hire us, asks cleaner Asah Akebe on TV on 12 October.

Asah Akebe. (Photo: still from the documentary)

“I love this building,” cleaning team manager Asah Akebe (Cameroon, 1982) says of Building X, where he works. “It is international. Students from all parts of the world come here to do sports.” He likes the open atmosphere better than that at his first placement some 15 years ago. “Applied Sciences was more closed. You go to work and no one pays attention to you. You just get a task and you do your task. But you have no contact with people outside your work and you go home. At X, it is completely different.”

Akebe is one of five characters in a documentary called Onzichtbaar (Invisible) produced by Gabriëlle Provaas for NPO 2. ‘Only when they are no longer doing their job do they become visible: the unnoticed heroes who keep our country clean every day’, the press release explains. ‘From schools and offices to hospitals and streets, they are at work everywhere, tireless and unassuming. Onzichtbaar confronts viewers with their own behaviour and reveals the price paid for the cleanliness we cherish.’

In the 15 years that Akebe has been working at TU Delft, it was under four different companies: Asito, CSU, Hago and GOM. And in two years’ time, the contract expires again. What does that mean? “Yes, the future is not certain. Because if a new company comes in, the people who don’t have a permanent contract will have to leave. Fortunately, I have a permanent job, so I can stay. But I would like TU Delft itself to employ us so that we are allowed to stay after 15 years. Ministries in The Hague have rehired cleaners, so it is possible.”

Why doesnt TU Delft actually hire cleaners, Delta asked the universitys Campus Real Estate & Financial Management (CREFM) department. Information officer Eelco de Vries replied: As is customary in the market, TU Delft uses external experts for services such as catering, security and cleaning. In this way, TU Delft can continue to focus on research, education and valorisation.

  • Cleaners have taken action several times at TU Delft over the years. That signed a contract with GOM in 2016, which the cleaners themselves said seemed an improvement (in Dutch) compared to the situation before. Just over six months later, they were again taking action (in Dutch) against high work pressure.
  • 2Doc Invisible will be broadcast at 22:20 on Thursday 12 October on NPO2. Directed by Gabriëlle Provaas, producer: TomTit Film. The film was also shown at the Netherlands Film Festival 2023.
Science editor Jos Wassink

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