Rybnik: Can the city stimulate the social economy sector?

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Around 25 participants took part in the Local Dialogue Forum that was organised jointly by the Town of Rybnik and the Institute for Sustainable Public Procurement on October 26th.

The participants of the debate included representatives of the Town Hall and its institutions, local NGOs and members of the social economy sector.

Grzegorz Piskalski from ISSP showcased the legal landscape and practise of using sustainable public procurement in Poland. One of the topics of the discussion included using them in urban revitalisation – a matter important also for Rybnik.

He also presented using tenders under the threshold of being under the Public Procurement Law regime as a tool for promoting social economy actors. – Because standard procedures seem too complicated for them both public institutions as well as executors of the contracts have a chance to overcome these difficulties and buy goods and services offered by the social economy sector.

Successes and challenges

Rybnik 5The local socio-economic context and its influence on sustainable public procurement was presented by the vicepresident of Rybnik, Piotr Masłowski.

- Social clauses should be used to reach long-term goals. Partnering with the social economy sector to use its goods and services is something we should all invest in. It requires educating public authorities in using social clauses, as well as showing good practices of their usage – he noted.

The question of problems with making social clauses more widely used has also been addressed.

- We should remember about the limitations in our budgets, as well as prepairing an operational surplus. Another barrier is the… lack of unemployment in our town. The lack of workers is being met by attracting foreign workers. 30% of tenders are left unsettled due to lack of offers – said Masłowski.

Despite these problems Rybnik tries to take decisions having a positive impact at working conditions and the environment. Local authorities decided to discard using outsourcing of cleaning and security services. It also seeks to promote green public procurement – from the next year return mugs will be used at mass events instead of single-use ones.

Developing the social economy

Rybnik 1The perspective of the social economy sector was presented by Piotr Dominiak from CRIS – the Centre of Development of Social Initiatives that also lead a local OWES – The Social Economy Support Hub. His speech focused on presenting the results of his own monitoring of social clauses usage in the local authorities in the Western subgegion of the Silesian Voivodeship.

- Good practices include Żory, which is the only town that uses a social clause for having catering from a company focused on social integration. Restricted procurement is being used by Racibórz, Jastrzębie-Zdrój and Gaszowice, where the work of a local „house of culture” was being handed over to a local NGO – he told the audience.

Dominiak emphasised the role of local government in solving social problems – but added that for such a scenario to happen cooperation between different actors is needed.

- Although the overall unemployment level is low most of this group consists of people from the so-called „third profile”, which means they are strongly detached from the labour market. Most of the workers in the social economy sector are from this group. We need to avoid situations, in which purchasing decisions of public authorities limit the chance to make that group mor active, ie. cases in which local tenders regarding social services are being won by companies from Warsaw or Białystok – he concluded.

Sustainable procurement in practice

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Ewa Szwelengreber, head of the public procurement department from Rybnik, showed the difficulties such as limited ways of controling the companies that are performing the tenders.

She also took notice of sectors in which the town tries to include ecological considerations, ie. by requiring companies from the construction sector to minimise dust. Companies from the transport sector helping with the constructions or with waste disposal have to have vehicles at least with the Euro IV norm. Detergents and paper need to be certified.

A long discussion during and after the presentations showed a need for dialogue between public authorities and the social economy sector.

One of the persons involved in the debate was Beata Olszewska from Manufaktura Smakowitości – a social co-op employing people with intellectual disabilities. Thanks to her help the Forum was a truly sustainable event. Goods served in the catering were sourced from local producers, tropical fruits were replaced by seasonal ones and waste was minimised thanks to abandoning plastic dishes. Fair Trade coffee was also on the menu.

Bartłomiej Kozek

The Forum is realised in the „Social Monitoring of the Usage of Sustainable Public Procurement in the Most Important Local and Central Public Institutions” project in the FIO programme financed by fund of the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy.

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