New chairman natural stone workers
A breath of fresh air is blowing through the federation of natural stone workers in the Confederation.
Wim Nelis, the new chairman, sets out the direction to be taken in the coming years.
Wim Nelis: “I have not become chairman out of personal ambition. But I had and have ideas and a vision that I would like to achieve. When I saw that our professional federation needed a new chairman and that there were few candidates, I accepted the mandate in response to Patrick Noé’s request.”
Unknown is unloved
“I have only been a member of the Confederation for a few years and I must admit I had my doubts about the usefulness of membership. Finally, all that has been overturned during this coronavirus crisis. With the information we received, the lobbying work, the advice, defending our interests, etc., I realised the use and potential of a strong professional organisation.”
“The problem is that a lot of the members don’t really know the Confederation well. We need to put our story across better, make our added value clearer. But to do that, first we need to recharge, to look at what we can offer the members, how we can respond better to their needs.”
“What are the needs of the natural stone contractors? The same as those of the construction industry in general. The lack of good staff, although we have to dare to search our own consciences about that. The construction sector has to shake off its negative image, get rid of the idea that our work is never finished on schedule, that our quotes aren’t accurate and that we don’t provide any customer service. If our image were better, we would find it easier to attract good people.”
“Just like for other contractors, safety and the environment are challenges for us. As regards safety, for our profession there is the problem of the hazardous dry quartz that is given off when sawing, grinding and drilling. When it comes to the environment, one of the big issues is the huge quantity of water used by natural stone workers. The regulations require the water to be purified, but I’m not convinced that everyone does that as carefully as they might. We have to be more sustainable for our planet, to think in the long term.”
“All these are points where our contractors need support. But a new dynamic has emerged in our professional federation in that respect. I would like to thank the contractors who have become our new board members for helping to set this in motion.”
“One example is the charter that we are drawing up for kitchen companies. It’s about the production of worktops for kitchens. One of the problems here is again protecting staff from the dust that this involves.”
Bringing members on board
Wim Nelis: “But I think this needs to come from the contractors themselves. I see it as my task to bring our members on board. So we are already visiting companies in our sector to raise questions, and next year we are going to organise roadshows. We are going to reach out to companies more, explain more what we offer them in terms of advice, training courses, and so on. We are going to try to put the Confederation and our professional federation on the map, and to work with the members on areas like safety, the environment, sustainability and image. I am convinced that companies that don’t embrace these points in the future will be the losers in the longer term.”
This article appeared in Bouwbedrijf, a publication from the Construction Confederation.
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