European rules covering foreign workers in the Netherlands need to be revised and there should be a EU-wide blacklist of companies which commit employment-related fraud, according to the Dutch government advisory group SER. SER, made up of union, employer and lay members, says a new plan needs to be drawn up to ensure worker mobility in Europe does not lead to some member states being disadvantaged.
SER was asked to make recommendations for encouraging equitable labour mobility by social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher following union complaints.
SER says the EU rules are often abused to the detriment of Dutch workers, who are losing out on jobs to cheaper foreign workers and unfair competition. In particular, it says the rules on using staffing agencies need to be revised, the draft report states.
Since 1996, companies have been able to take advantage of a clause in the legislation which allows firms to pay foreign workers in line with Dutch minimum wage rules but pay social insurance and pension premiums in their country of origin – which is cheaper.
SER also says measures need to be taken to ensure EU migrants integrate better in their host country and that their qualifications are properly used. Many EU migrants are overqualified for the work they are doing, SER points out.
The report comes as 10 Hungarian lorry drivers take legal action against Noord-Brabant transport company Van den Bosch Transporten. They say they should have been paid according to the official Dutch pay and conditions agreement rather than the much lower Hungarian pay scale.
The drivers are represented by the FNV trade union. Van den Bosch’s clients include DSM, Unilever and Cargill.
According to the union, the drivers are flown from Hungary to Eindhoven airport. They then travel to Erp to pick up their lorry and spend the next three weeks driving in the Netherlands and abroad.
Van den Bosch claims their work in the Netherlands is minimal and they are rightly paid according to Hungarian norms. The union says their Hungarian subsidiary employer is a letter box firm and everything, including the job interviews, took place in Erp.
The court will rule on the case on January 8.
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