Dutch reputation is being damaged by dodgy staffing agencies: ministers

The way in which migrant workers are being exploited by some employers and staffing agencies in the Netherlands is unacceptable and damaging the country’s reputation, government ministers told MPs on Friday. The cabinet wants to give better protection to the 400,000 European nationals working on farms and in industry in the Netherlands, home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren and social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees said in a briefing to parliament. Many of the people doing low-skilled work in agriculture or in construction and logistics are unaware of their rights and do not dare to speak out because they are worried about their jobs, the ministers said. The measures under consideration include tougher checks on staffing agencies, better information in countries of origin about worker rights and better registration systems for migrant workers. Language lessons and housing projects are also an option, the ministers said. ‘The Netherlands needs migrant labourers,’ the ministers said. ‘If the Netherlands wants to continue to grow in prosperity, then we have to ensure the Netherlands remains an attractive place to work and live.’ Low wages The Dutch statistics agency CBS said earlier this year that workers from Poland, Romania and other eastern and central European countries earn the lowest wages of all immigrant groups. Some 80% of the 180,000 Polish nationals working in the Netherlands earn less than €15 per hour. Poland’s ambassador to the Netherlands also recently sounded the alarm about dodgy staffing agencies and the abuse of Dutch labour laws to exploit migrant workers. ‘People are being brought to the Netherlands under false pretences and have to work here in poor conditions, while being excluded from Dutch society,’ he told the AD.  More >

Dutch call for a tax on aircraft fuel

The Netherlands is working at a European level to introduce a tax on aircraft fuel, junior finance minister Menno Snel told an aviation conference in The Hague on Thursday. The lack of tax on aircraft fuel is down to an international treaty dating from 1944, and that treaty is completely outdated due to climate change, the Dutch cabinet says. 'The Netherlands believes that despite this treaty, it should still be possible to tax kerosene, if we do it with other European countries,' Snel said in a press statement. 'It is, of course, rather strange that you pay more tax on filling up your car with petrol than you do for filling up a plane.' The Netherlands is planning to introduce its own aviation tax of some €7 a ticket if no European agreement is reached before 2021. A European Commission report leaked by green campaign group Transport & Environment in May shows that taxing kerosene in Europe would cut aviation emissions by 11% and have no net impact on jobs or the economy as a whole. The conference in The Hague runs until Friday.  More >

King being invested in British royal order

King Willem-Alexander is one of two European monarchs being sworn in to one of the British monarchy’s most esteemed orders on Monday. The king is being invested into the Order of the Garter alongside King Felipe VI of Spain, having received the honour during his state visit last October. King Felipe was inducted into the order in 2017. Both will join the group of ‘supernumerary’ knights and ladies companion of the garter, made up of members of other royal houses. The honour is personally bestowed by Queen Elizabeth II without consulting ministers. The king will be accompanied by Queen Maxima and joins his mother, Princess Beatrix, who was appointed to the order in 1989. Other ‘supernumerary’ members include King Juan Carlos I of Spain, King Harald V of Norway and Emperor Emeritus Akihito of Japan. Hundreds of spectators are expected to turn out to see the procession through the grounds of Windsor Castle in their ceremonial blue velvet robes and black velvet hats with white plumes. The Most Noble Order of the Garter was founded by Edward III in 1348 and is the most senior order of knighthood in the British honours system. The number of companions is limited to 24, although supernumerary members do not count towards this total. Queen Elizabeth is sovereign of the order and a number of other British royals are additional knights, including Philip, Charles and William. Recipients of the honour are chosen because they have held public office, contributed to national life or served the queen in a personal capacity. Garter knights can be ‘degraded’ if they take up arms against the sovereign – Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and Franz Joseph, Emperor of Austria, were both stripped of the honour in 1915 following the outbreak of the First World War.  More >

Police search for stowaways in Rotterdam

Police and border police are checking all lorries embarking on the ferry to England at Rotterdam port on Tuesday in an attempt to find stowaways. The large-scale search involves using dogs, and police are also measuring CO2 levels which would indicate a human presence, broadcaster NOS said. Last year some 1,371 people were found to have climbed into trailers and containers at the port in an effort to make the trip to Britain, compared to 944 in 2017. ‘The journey can be risky, with people in danger of asphyxiation and if they climb into a refrigerator truck they can suffer from hypothermia. And then there’s us, so the chance that they’ll make it to the other side is minimal,’ police spokesman Maarten van Boekel told the broadcaster. Last month officials found a group of 34 stowaways, including two children aged seven and nine. Most migrants are young Albanians who don’t need a visa for the Netherlands but do need one for Britain. The Albanian authorities are trying to discourage people from travelling to Britain, Van Boekel said. ‘We show them what the consequences are. People who are found are sent back to Albania and are barred from travelling in Europe for two years.’ One of the police officers involved in Tuesday’s search said big criminal organisations are behind this human trafficking route and people are paying up to €5,000 to make the trip.  More >