Big construction firms want to have their own ‘pay deal police’ to check if pay and conditions agreement rules are broken, the Financieele Dagblad writes on Tuesday.
Subcontractors who structurally and knowingly avoid paying social premiums and break minimum pay rules must be brought to book, construction employers say. The building industry employs some 118,000 people on freelance contracts and between 40,000 and 60,000 agency workers, often from abroad.
The big building firms, which include Dura Vermeer, Heijman and Bam, want personnel checks at the gate and independent inspectors who will carry out spot checks on personnel files on site.
‘At this moment it is impossible to guarantee that you will not find someone working on one of our building sites who get less than €18 an hour,’ personnel manager Alfred Boot of Dura Vermeer told the paper.
‘Until now we have largely left the subcontractors to their own devices but now we want to increase controls and makes sure they work according to our standards. That can only happen if everybody complies.’
Boot’s own company got into trouble in 2015 when it turned out that Irish employment agency Atlantico Rimec charged Portuguese builders working on a Dura Vermeer project excessive sums for housing. The firm has since stopped using the agency.
Reactions from unions FNV and CNV have been guarded, the FD writes. ‘The big players often have little influence on subcontractors such as Rimec but they are legally responsible for fake contracts,’ FNV building sector leader Hans Crombeen told the paper.
The initiative would be one of several, FD says. Another ongoing scheme involves a ‘site ID’ which will show if a builder’s papers are in order and if he is paid according to the rules.
The unions are looking to introduce the ID in 2017 but it has run into difficulties because many building firms refuse to reveal their chain of subcontractors and personnel because of competition concerns.
‘Currently, it is impossible to know the status of all workers on a building site. Often dozens of limited companies are involved and more often than not the trail runs dry abroad,’ policy secretary Truus Remkes of the Dutch federation of contractors AFNL told the paper.
The federation, which represents small and medium-sized contractors, is less than impressed by the plans and fears the knives are out for smaller firms. ‘The fact that we do not have a level playing field is the fault of the 10 big building firms themselves.
‘They want to point the finger in order to protect their own backs,’ Remkes told the paper.
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