Friday 18 October 2019

Asparagus farmer faces fines for paying pickers 55 cents a kilo

An asparagus farmer from the south east of Brabant has been exploiting 23 ‘labour migrants’ by paying them per kilo of asparagus they cut and putting them up in caravans without electricity, social affairs ministry inspectors said on Friday.

The inspectors were alerted to the situation by local council officials but did not say where the farm was located or which company was involved.

The 23 people found at the site said they were required to work seven days a week and often 12 hour days. They were working without a contract and did not have health insurance.

The workers were paid 55 cents for every kilo they picked, even though piece work is illegal in the Netherlands. This meant they earned around €230 a week, picking up to 70 kilos of asparagus a day. Farmers earn up around €7 per kilo of asparagus.

The group lived in caravans without electricity and with two showers between them. There was no fridge and little in the way of cooking facilities.

The farmer can expect fines for breaking minimum wage and working hour rules, the inspectors said.

In 2011, an asparagus farmer in Brabant was sentenced to three years in jail for 33 infringements of minimum wage and employment legislation and for employing illegal immigrants.

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