Transport ministry, construction firms ‘fail to ensure workers are not exploited’

Special equipment on a construction of roads. Skating rink VolvoThe transport ministry’s roads department has done nothing to counteract the exploitation of workers despite all the evidence of abuse, the FNV union said on Thursday.

The union bases its accusations on a report by the multinational investigation foundation SOMO, news agency ANP reports. The union says the roads department has a variety of options to check and monitor building companies working on its behalf but fails to do so.

For example, last year construction companies working on the A2 motorway in Limburg were accused of exploiting mainly Portuguese workers who were charged nearly €1,000 a month for housing and travel.

‘This means the ministry is breaking international treaties, including human rights legislation,’ the FNV union said.

Major contractors such as VolkerWessels and Heijmans are also failing to check up on sub-contractors, blaming the ‘enormous administrative burden’ and ‘problems with privacy legislation’, ANP says.

‘Costs have to be cut somewhere. And those at the top of the chain close their eyes to what happens below them,’ the union said. It wants the ministry to overhaul its tender processes to ensure workers are paid properly and not being exploited.

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