The pressure to find cheap labour and reduce costs led to a sharp increase in the number of complaints made to the labour inspectorate last year.
In total, inspectors received 7,633 reports about people not being paid properly, about bad working conditions, discrimination and other problems, a rise of over 500 on 2017.
‘We are seeing a continual drive to make labour cheaper in some sectors,’ chief inspector Marc Kuipers said at the report’s presentation.
In particular, the arrival of ‘budget players’ which are ‘pushing the law as far as they can, and breaking rules such as minimum pay legislation,’ are a worry, Kuipers said.
Among the cases of exploitation identified by inspectors was the the case of a 14-year old girl, working 12 hours a day picking mushrooms, when she should have been at school.
In another case, four people were found living in primitive conditions on a building site in Veenendaal, where they slept on mattresses on the floor.
The trend towards companies working together across borders to get round labour laws, is a major problem, inspector Hüsnü Polat said on the inspectorate’s website. ‘Some employers will do anything if they can earn more,’ he said.
For example, the report said, dodgy staffing agencies increasingly see providing accommodation for foreign workers at high cost as a way of earning money.
More than half the complaints last year were upheld, but 70% to 90% of firms did show improvements when re-inspected, the report said.
In total, 71 people died in industrial accidents last year, a rise of 17 on 2017. Most – 20 – worked for the construction sector.
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