Social affairs minister Henk Kamp is introducing tough new measures in an effort to eradicate the exploitation of workers in the mushroom sector.
The minister is to increase the number of inspections, make it more difficult for workers to set up as independent contractors and raise fines to up to €12,000 per worker at firms where the rules are broken.
Two years ago, ministry inspectors concluded there is wide scale fraud at the Netherlands’ 250 or so mushroom growers. In particular, workers from central and eastern Europe are being exploited.
For example, they often effectively earn less than the minimum wage and work longer than the statutory 40 hours a week. The minister also wants to ensure that workers who set up as freelancers (zzp’ers) are genuinely freelance and are not simply being used to force down pay rates.
Last week, a number of mushroom growers launched a ‘fair work’ label for the sector, in an effort to squeeze out growers who break the rules.