The number of ‘migrant workers’ in the Netherlands could be far higher than official figures show because tens of thousands do not register with the local authority where they live, according to research by news website Investico.
People are required by law to register if they plan to live in the Netherlands for longer than four months, but many are not aware of the requirement, Investico said. This means, the platform said, the government has no real idea how many seasonal workers are in the Netherlands.
Investico bases its claims on a study of leaked data relating to Otto Workforce, said to be the biggest staffing agency for workers from central and eastern Europe in the country.
Between mid 2019 and the end of 2020 Otto mediated on behalf of almost 15,000 workers who should have been registered, Investico said. According to the data, some 900 people should have been registered in the Limburg town of Sevenum during the period in question, but just 30 had actually done so.
The picture was similar at large bases in Waalwijk and Boskoop, Investico said.
Extrapolated to cover the country, this could mean 250,000 people are not registered, Investico said. Officially, some 500,000 people from other EU countries work in Netherlands, mainly in farming, distribution centres, factories and the meat industry.
Not being registered means people are unable to claim benefits if they lose their jobs and their children will not be able to get extra language lessons at school. It also means they will not be included in the coronavirus vaccination scheme.
Emile Roemer, former Socialist party leader who is researching the problems facing seasonal workers on behalf of the government said last year that officials do not know where ‘hundreds of thousands of migrant workers.’
People who are not registered are vulnerable and dependent on their employer, Imke van Gardingen, a legal strategist for the FNV trade union said.
Last year, Roemer’s commission published a report saying 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 worker.
According to some estimates, there are currently 14,000 staffing agencies operating in the Netherlands.
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