Sunday 18 April 2021

Dutch union accuses IKEA of exploiting foreign truck drivers

Furniture group IKEA is breaking Dutch laws by using cheap Slovakian drivers to bring goods from its Belgian distribution centre to the Netherlands, the FNV trade union says in Tuesday’s Volkskrant.

The union has made a formal complaint to the transport ministry about use of foreign drivers who are employed via a Slovakian employment agencies. Transport companies are also concerned about the arrangement, the paper says.

IKEA says it is acting within the law. The Belgian transport group subcontracts delivery work to its Slovakian subsidiary which in turn uses the services of a local staffing agency.

The FNV claims eastern European drivers spend weeks if not months living in their cabs, drive long hours and are paid below the minimum wage.
A driver contract seen by the Volkskrant shows a Slovakian driver earns €420 a month plus €1,300 in ‘expenses’. An experienced Dutch driver earns €3,000 net a month.

Cheats

The union and employers say the Dutch government is not doing enough to crack down on the illegal use of cheap foreign drivers. ‘Cheats should be punished and fair play rewarded with equitable and sustainable transport contracts,’ FNV spokesman Edwin Atema told the paper.

Transport ministry inspectors deny that they are not doing enough but the promised checks on 14,000 lorries last year were not achieved, the Volkskrant says.

In the meantime, IKEA says it has expanded its code of conduct to cover transport. ‘We consider it important that our products are made and delivered under proper and fair conditions,’ a spokeswoman in Sweden told the paper.

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