Local councils must not expect extra money from central government or new legislation when it comes to solving problems caused by large concentrations of Polish workers, says social affairs minister Piet Hein Donner.
Donner was speaking at the opening of the so-called ‘Polish summit’ organised by Rotterdam city council on Wednesday.
The minister praised the initiative by up to a hundred local councils to discuss what is seen as ‘the growing problem’ of workers from Eastern Europe in the Netherlands.
Donner did say, however, that he planned to meet employers to stress the importance of providing proper accommodation for Polish workers. Rotterdam city council in particular has complained that eastern Europeans are forming new ghettos in some parts of the city.
MPs have also called for compulsory language and parenting classes for Poles to make sure they are properly integrated into Dutch society.
The number of Poles in Rotterdam has gone up from around 2,500 last year to an estimated 15,000 today following the opening of borders between Poland and the Netherlands in May, says Wednesday’s NRC Next.
According to researchers Regioplan, there are a total 100,000 people from the new EU states in the Netherlands and 80% of these are Poles. Most work in sectors which find it hard to attract Dutch workers such as construction, horticulture, transport and meat processing.
Peter Broekmeulen, director of the employment agency BN Poland, claims that Polish people work much harder than Dutch staff. ‘Companies know that a worker from eastern Europe is 25% to 30% more productive than a Dutch worker,’ says Broekmeulen in NRC.
According to an online poll by the radio programme Stand.nl, only 34% of the population believe the Netherlands needs Polish workers.
Donner reiterated government plans to consider opening the borders to Romanians and Bulgarians without permits before 2009. MPs want a further delay in open borders.
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