Ukrainian workers exploited in Westland greenhouses, union says


Some Ukrainian refugees who have found work in the greenhouses of the Westland are being exploited by a Polish staffing agency and Dutch employers, union CNV has claimed.

The union based its accusation on documents and a number of interviews by RTL News with Ukrainians working in the horticultural sector.

The workers concerned all signed a three month contract with one Polish agency which, according to the claims, includes illegal conditions, such as a €500 fine if workers complain about working conditions to their employer and, in one case, a threat of deportation back to Ukraine if the conditions are breached.

CNV union official Henry Stroek called the practice ‘completely immoral and reprehensible’. Workers at one bulb and plant company, which has so far failed to respond to questions by RTL Nieuws, told the broadcaster that they were paying different amounts to Janpol for handling the paperwork.

‘We also don’t know how much we are paying for the accommodation and transport,’ they said. A number of Ukrainian women who had already worked for a month were still waiting for their pay, they said, and were unable to buy food and clothing.

Staffing agencies have been under fire for their treatment of EU seasonal workers for years but despite a raft of recommendations nothing has been done to remedy the situation.

The practice amounts to human trafficking, according to campaign group Comensha. ‘Dutch and Polish employers are abusing vulnerable people and they know very well that what they are doing is completely wrong,’ director Ina Hut said.

Some 60,000 Ukrainian refugees have come to the Netherlands so far. They do not need a work permit but employers have a duty to register this with the UWV.

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