Thursday 07 July 2022

Dutch are opposed to Brussels’ labour migration plan, minister says

The Dutch cabinet is opposed to European Commission plans to allow more people from non-EU countries to come to the Netherlands to work, social affairs minister Karien van Gennip told MPs on Thursday.

Van Gennip said she could not envisage how a new group of workers could be housed and warned this could lead to increased tension in some parts of the country.

‘These people have to be able to live somewhere and have a job like everyone else, with a proper salary and good working conditions,’ she is quoted as saying by broadcaster NOS. The problems which the current group of seasonal workers are faced with need to be solved first, the minister said.

Last week, social affairs ministry inspectors warned that people moving to the Netherlands to do low-skilled work are living in ‘increasingly miserable conditions’ and that Dutch firms are opting to use cheap foreign workers rather than innovate or improve working conditions.

Chief inspector Rits de Boer also criticized employers who dump workers once they have worked long enough to have more rights, and landlords who provide dirty, expensive housing.

The current situation, De Boer said means that private companies are boosting labour migration and earning the money, but that society at large is picking up the bill in the form of pressure on the housing market, public services and the education system.

Given all this, the Netherlands has little choice other than to ‘orientate itself’ on ‘stabilising the size of the population’ and carrying out a fundamental reorientation of what work means, he said.

The inspectors’ report was the latest in a string of damning publications on the plight of eastern European workers in the Netherlands.

Labour shortage

The Commission said earlier this month that allowing in workers from countries such as Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia would help ease the labour shortage facing many EU countries.

The cabinet has yet to give an official reaction to the Commission’s proposals.

However, Van Gennip said that one option to solve the shortage of works in the Netherlands was to tap into the ranks of the unemployed, encourage part-timers to work more hours and to focus on other EU countries, such as France and Spain, with a high number of unemployed youngsters, NOS said.

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