Wednesday 15 July 2020

‘We are working on migrant worker housing problem,’ minister tells MPs

Asparagus picking is mainly done by migrant workers. Photo: Depositphotos.com

Social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees has told MPs he does not know how many people on staffing agency contracts have lost their jobs and, consequently their homes, but that the government is working to stamp out problems in the sector.

Many people from eastern Europe who work in the Netherlands through staffing agencies rely on those agencies for a place to live. But there are fears that many who have lost their jobs because of coronavirus are ending up homeless.

Koolmees said that employers are able to apply for government help to keep paying staff on flexible contracts. ‘Should a staffing agency sack a labour migrant, the cabinet is asking them to be responsible and not put the worker on the street,’ Koolmees said.

In addition, people who have been made homeless may be able to get temporary help from their local authority employer, the minister said.

While some sectors which use large amounts of temporary labour are contracting, others, such as agriculture and logistics need more staff, Koolmees said. ‘This is why ministers are working together with unions, employers, local authorities and private intermediaries to set up a platform –  www.NLwerktdoor.nl – to improve the link between supply and demand on the jobs market,’ he said.

In addition, the government has set up a special task force to work on problems associated with migrant labour, including the exploitation of workers and problems with housing, the minister said.

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