Government minister Schouten visits DAF and Ergon
DAF Trucks and Ergon extend their partnership
On Monday, 4 July, Carola Schouten, the Dutch Minister for Poverty Policy, Participation and Pensions, visited the PACCAR Parts packaging centre. This plant provides roles for 350 Ergon employees who have a vulnerable position in the labour market. DAF/PACCAR Parts and Ergon re-affirmed the special nature of their partnership earlier in the day by extending the contract between the companies for a further three years.
Ergon has been working with DAF and the PACCAR Parts division for more than 20 years. Jeroen Gielen, PDC Manager PACCAR Parts Europe, says, "Over the past 20 years we have found Ergon to be an excellent partner who we are able to work closely with in order to realise our ambition of being socially responsible. Fifteen Ergon employees started working for us in 2001. Today, some 350 employees work across 4 departments. Together, they pack around 80,000 spare parts per day in the PACCAR Parts packaging centre — from screws and nuts to complete cylinder heads and doors." Ergon is fully responsible for the running of the packaging department.
Shop floor tour
During a tour of the DAF/PACCAR Parts shop floor, the minister heard first-hand what having a job means to the Ergon employees. Minister Schouten told us, "The stories I heard were moving and the level of enthusiasm was infectious. The fact that these people are so happy to go to work is partly due to the strong network of employers who have joined in with this initiative. This regional cooperation will increase the development opportunities available both to companies and to people with disabilities that affect their ability to work. This is very nice to see."
Working at DAF provides an income, gives structure, promotes self-confidence and makes the employees self-reliant and independent. Ergon employee Daniel says, "I wouldn't know what to do without this job. I really enjoy my work. I pack different products every day, which gives variety to my work."
Broadening the scope of the agreement
The new contract between DAF and Ergon includes provision for a more in-depth partnership that provides assistance to a greater number of target groups. In addition to the 350 employees who have a vulnerable position in the labour market, Ergon will also support DAF employees who will reach retirement age within three years, as well as DAF employees who are looking for an appropriate workplace on a temporary basis, with a view to reintegrating them into the workforce.
The development companies situated in the Brabant region, together with industry partner Cedris, have for a long time been calling for an improvement in the financial arrangements surrounding the implementation of the Dutch Participation Act. Funding is needed so that social development companies such as Ergon can continue to innovate in order to help members of the wide-ranging groups who are eligible for reintegration to develop themselves and gain employment, and then subsequently continue to improve their skills. They also act as a crucial bridge between employers and people with a distance to the labour market. It is important to encourage municipalities to make as many positions as possible available on the labour market, but what is actually being observed is a contraction in the number of open roles due to financial constraints. Saskia Lammers, alderman for well-being, work, poverty, culture and design for the municipal executive of Eindhoven says, "We know how important work is to everyone and undoubtedly for people with disabilities that affect their ability to work. In addition to providing them with an income, it also provides the social interaction of working with colleagues and the opportunity to develop themselves. We are therefore striving to create an inclusive labour market. At the moment, however, the government's financial system has a number of limitations that clearly require improvement.