The Dutch foreign ministry has received 26 complaints over the past five years about the exploitation of private domestic staff working for diplomats in The Hague, the Volkskrant said on Thursday.
The complaints ranged from underpayments to poor working conditions and ‘inappropriate behaviour’, the paper said. The Volkskrant bases its claims on documentation obtained using freedom of information legislation.
The ministry declined to say what nationality the exploited members of staff had in order to protect a ‘vulnerable group’ and to preserve diplomatic relations. Nor would it say which embassies were involved.
However, non-profit organisation FairWork, which campaigns on behalf of workers who are exploited in the Netherlands, says domestic personnel working for diplomatic staff from the Philippines, Indonesia, South American and African countries have been affected. Domestic staff for members of the international criminal court and the European patent office had also experienced problems.
In total, around 140 people work privately for diplomats, as nannies, cooks, cleaners and waiters.
For the past two years, private embassy staff now have to pick up their work permits personally from the foreign ministry, where they are briefed on their rights, including holidays, a 40-hour working week and a minimum wage.
They are also given an information pack listing where they can go to report problems with their employers. Domestic staff are also invited to attend a meeting at the ministry every six months and civil servants have been trained to recognise signs that staff are being exploited.
Over the past three years, three people were given back pay, two were bought tickets home and one case of sexual abuse was dropped because the diplomat was sent back, the Volkskrant said.
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