Staffing agencies should be licenced and banned from offering accommodation as part of an employment package in an effort to end the exploitation of seasonal workers, according to a new report.
The report, drawn up by former Socialist party leader Emile Roemer at the request of the government, contains a total of 50 recommendations, the most important of which is the reintroduction of licences for agencies which bring in workers from abroad.
‘It is too easy to set up a staffing agency and there are too many dodgy companies,’ Roemer said. ‘This is why we say agencies and payrolling companies must be licenced.’ Companies which do business with unlicenced agencies would also face hefty fines. According to some estimates, there are currently 14,000 staffing agencies operating in the Netherlands.
Some 500,000 people from other EU countries work in Netherlands, mainly in farming, distribution centres, factories and the meat industry. Coronavirus has spread among workers at several meat processing plants and at fruit farms, and officials say the cramped conditions the mainly eastern European workers live in may have contributed.
Roemer’s report also recommends stopping agencies providing housing as part of a job contract. Instead seasonal workers should be given individual rental contracts, their own rooms, and be allowed to stay on the premises for up to a month if they lose their jobs.
‘Seasonal workers who come here should be treated as we would like to be treated if we went to work in another country,’ Roemer said.
Dutch temporary employment agency umbrella group ABU said in a reaction that the problem in the seasonal job sector is not the lack of rules, but the lack of enforcement and manpower to check up on companies.
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