Embassies in The Hague are refusing to compensate wrongly sacked staff
Several foreign embassies in The Hague are still ignoring court orders to pay staff deemed wrongly sacked by judges their rightful compensation package, the NRC reported on Thursday.
In particular, the Algerian and Brazilian embassies have failed to pay two workers over €150,000 in damages for wrongful dismissal, the paper said.
One case involves a former driver for the Brazilian ambassador and the other an admin worker at the Algerian embassy. Both men, who are Dutch nationals, went to court to have their sackings overturned and won.
The paper reported last year that four other embassies – Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Egypt – have also ignored court orders about payments, despite pressure from the Dutch foreign ministry.
The NRC bases its claims on conversations with the ex workers, as well as legal documents.
The workers fall under Dutch employment law, live here and virtually all have a Dutch passport and pay tax, the NRC said.
However, the Treaty of Vienna allows embassies to set aside court rulings if they are a question of diplomatic immunity, and that means bailiffs cannot sequester goods or bank accounts to pay debts to local staff.
When the NRC revealed that former embassy staff were not being paid proper compensation for being wrongly sacked last year, MPs called on the government to set up a guarantee fund, but the foreign ministry is opposed.
Minister Wopke Hoekstra told television programme Boos that he is willing to talk to embassy officials but that he has no resources to force them to comply with Dutch court orders.
Lawyer Kimberley Collée, who represents the Algerian embassy worker, told the NRC: ‘It would appear that if you work at an embassy you have fewer rights than other Dutch workers. Diplomatic immunity is being abused.’
The Brazilian embassy told the NRC that it is waiting for a reaction to the claims from Brazil while the embassy of Saudi Arabia said it did not recognize the legal documents because they are not in line with international legal standards. The other embassies, the NRC said, declined to comment despite repeated requests.
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