Free movement of people within EU leads to pay problems: minister

Social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher wants to raise ‘problems’ associated with the free movement of workers within the EU with Brussels, the Telegraaf reports on Tuesday.

The Telegraaf says the minister wants the ‘replacement’ of Dutch workers by cheaper foreign staff on the European Commission agenda.

Asscher made the comments on Monday evening in a debate with British integration expert David Goodhart at the Balie in Amsterdam.

Asscher also said he is concerned about the shell constructions companies are using to hire in other EU nationals for lower wages. ‘We are being confronted with the negative effects of one of the important cornerstones of the EU – the free movement of people,’ the minister is quoted as saying.

Open borders

The paper says there are fears the problem will become worse when the Dutch borders are fully opened to people from Romania and Bulgaria from next year.

Asscher said in January he is to work with trade unions and employers’ organisations on closing a loophole in the law allowing Dutch staffing agencies to bring cheap workers from eastern Europe into the Netherlands.

The statement followed complaints that agencies in Poland are getting around the law by paying fruit and vegetable pickers a low Polish wage plus tax-free ‘expenses’ in the Netherlands.

Some 600,000 people from other EU countries currently live in the Netherlands.

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