Praised staffing agency accused of exploiting eastern Europeans

A staffing agency with turnover of €12m which has been praised for its ‘creative approach’ is exploiting workers from eastern Europe, Trouw reports on Wednesday.

The Werk & Ik agency, which claims Schiphol airport, Swissair and Amsterdam’s RAI exhibition centre among its clients, requires temporary workers to work long days, often for less than the official wages, Trouw claims.

The company, set up in 2009, does not give its workers pay slips and deducts €2.50 an hour from wages for a bed in a garage. This takes the price of a place to sleep up to €150 a week, Trouw says. Nor does it always give staff holiday pay, as required by law.


Amsterdam city officials on Monday raided a building where illegal temps were living, alderman Els Verdonk told the paper.

The company, which booked turnover of €12m last year, has some 1,200 temps on its books. Owner Ivan Kerels told Trouw that the long days – up to 20 hours in some cases – are the result of people ‘begging’ for work.

The company has grown too quickly and needs to get its paperwork and pay slips organised, he said. ‘I am simply an entrepreneur who works hard and wants to grow quickly. Then you get growing pains,’ he is quoted by Trouw as saying.

The company is being investigated by a special foundation which looks into the way staffing agencies comply with the central pay and conditions agreement for temporary and flexible staff.


Last year Werk & Ik reached the final of a competition to find Amsterdam’s top entrepreneur and was praised by the judges for its creative approach and for managing to make a profit when the sector was shrinking.

Social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher has pledged to crack down on staffing agencies which exploit staff and break labour laws.

In the first six months of this year, social affairs ministry inspectors have issued fines totalling €90m to companies which have broken the rules.

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