Tuesday 05 July 2022

MPs vote to tighten up staffing agency rules, improve migrant worker housing

Dutch fruit and veg farmers rely on cheap labour from abroad. Photo: Depositphotos.com

Dutch MPs on Tuesday voted in favour of a motion drawn up by the Christian Democrats and D66 which asks ministers to look into requiring all staffing agencies to meet tougher quality standards.

There are currently some 14,000 staffing agencies in the Netherlands but there are no rules governing who can start up an agency and most do not subscribe to existing quality trademarks.

MPs also voted in favour of a motion to improve the housing lived in by staffing agency workers, which is often provided by the agencies themselves. However, there was not enough support for a ChristenUnie and Socialist party plan to stop agencies making accommodation part of contracts, including automatic deductions.

Attention has been firmly focused on the staffing agency sector since the outbreak of coronavirus. Tens of thousands of mainly eastern Europeans work in the Netherlands via agencies and the cramped conditions many of them live in are thought to have contributed to several outbreaks in meat packing plants.

Free movement

MPs also agreed to ask the Council of State to look into a plan drawn up by ChristenUnie and the SP last year to regulate migration within the EU, particularly when it comes to hiring in cheap workers from central and eastern Europe.

The two parties are calling for action at a European level to tackle the excesses of labour migration and to improve working and living conditions for the migrants themselves.

While placing limits on free movement is not on the cards, there is no harm in asking the government’s most senior advisory body to look into the idea, MPs said.

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