FloraHolland has recently experienced the largest labour dispute in its history. Yet, the added value of the cooperative proved itself more than ever. "We were torn apart and brought back together in just one week," says General Manager Lucas Vos. Let’s look back.
"When the industrial action started, I felt powerless. I couldn't act effectively enough as General Manager because I had only just started. Even so, I feel I'm the right man in the right job, especially after my conversations with employees, growers and customers. This is a wonderful company in a difficult phase. That phase requires someone who can unite and set out the parameters. I believe I have those qualities."
"Growers and customers look for the added value of FloraHolland. In the end, they showed a lot of trust in us. Growers and buyers also remained loyal to the clock during the action, in the belief that the auction would readjust. They got that right. We appreciated that, it's given us a base on which to build."
"I read on the Community: they managed to shift all the Valentine's Day trade, so from now on it can cope with fewer people. But that's not true. It worked because office staff lent a hand and others worked extra hours. We can do that for a few days, but not for the rest of our lives."
"FloraHolland has to learn how to deal with the changes around us. Pride in our past cannot mean staying attached to the auction in the way we always have. We're in a difficult phase. Employees have expressed their discontent, and customers are uncertain about our strategy. Members are asking increasingly complex questions compared to when everything was still about the auction clock. Choices are inevitable. What do members and customers need? How can we make a profit from services? What are we doing and what are we not doing? How do we create a culture that suits the FloraHolland of 2014? We have to address all these points."
"The new Social Plan is better for vulnerable groups of employees. That's a win for the unions, though as far as I am concerned, this Valentine strike wasn't necessary. The new Social Plan fits within the framework that was agreed at the end of last year. Enforcing the existing plan, the desire of the unions, wasn't possible. But it all ended well."
"Thanks to our dialogue with employees, many of their frustrations and emotions are now open to discussion. And I've encountered a lot of passion. That passion will enable us to take up our challenges."
"I see that, in recent years, FloraHolland has alienated key stakeholders. Unintentionally. Partly due to our definition of the term 'grower's interest', tensions have arisen between FloraHolland and its customers. The question asked frequently was: who is our client actually, the grower or the buyer? It's clear to me: we are a growers' cooperative, so the buyer is our customer. FloraHolland serves the growers' interest by thinking about and acting for the customer. So we have to listen carefully to customers and pass that onto our growers, so that they think increasingly about the experience around their product and not just about the product itself. FloraHolland can certainly help there."