The way in which migrant workers are being exploited by some employers and staffing agencies in the Netherlands is unacceptable and damaging the country’s reputation, government ministers told MPs on Friday.
The cabinet wants to give better protection to the 400,000 European nationals working on farms and in industry in the Netherlands, home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren and social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees said in a briefing to parliament.
Many of the people doing low-skilled work in agriculture or in construction and logistics are unaware of their rights and do not dare to speak out because they are worried about their jobs, the ministers said.
The measures under consideration include tougher checks on staffing agencies, better information in countries of origin about worker rights and better registration systems for migrant workers. Language lessons and housing projects are also an option, the ministers said.
‘The Netherlands needs migrant labourers,’ the ministers said. ‘If the Netherlands wants to continue to grow in prosperity, then we have to ensure the Netherlands remains an attractive place to work and live.’
The Dutch statistics agency CBS said earlier this year that workers from Poland, Romania and other eastern and central European countries earn the lowest wages of all immigrant groups. Some 80% of the 180,000 Polish nationals working in the Netherlands earn less than €15 per hour.
Poland’s ambassador to the Netherlands also recently sounded the alarm about dodgy staffing agencies and the abuse of Dutch labour laws to exploit migrant workers.
‘People are being brought to the Netherlands under false pretences and have to work here in poor conditions, while being excluded from Dutch society,’ he told the AD.
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