A majority of MPs are still opposed to opening up Dutch borders to workers from countries which joined the EU in 2004. During the parliamentary debate on Thursday evening, MPs said the government has not taken enough measures to make sure new workers are not taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers and paid less than official wages.
Social affairs minister Piet Hein Donner wants to open the borders from May 1, but MPs have the final say. Donner told MPs yesterday he would come up with a list of further measures to stop eastern Europeans being exploited. This includes looking at ways to make sure labour inspectors focus on tracking down employers who break minimum wage rules.
PvdA (Labour) MP Ton Heerts said Donner’s reply will determine how his party – which is part of the government – vote on the issue. Donner (Christian Democrat) is to discuss the issue with MPs again next week.
VVD (Liberal), Christian Democrat and D66 MPs all back the minister’s call to allow in eastern European workers from May 1. They argue that the Dutch economy is being hit by a shortage of workers.
Employers’ organisations have also called on the government to allow people from Poland and other new EU member states to take jobs without the need for a work permit. Some 24,000 permits were issued to eastern Europeans in the first three months of this year.
Limits on the entry of workers from Poland and other new EU countries were due to have been lifted several times but have been continually delayed following objections from unions and MPs.
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