Sat. Apr 20th, 2019

The flexibility of the Dutch market takes its toll on European temporary workers

The flexibility of the Dutch market takes its toll on European temporary workers



The Dutch labor market "has become too flexible" in recent decades and many seasonal workers from European countries, including Spaniards, are suffering from the "insecurity" that results, acknowledges Efe the vice president of the Dutch trade union federation (FNV) ), Tuur Elzinga.

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In the Netherlands, the labor market is "hyper-flexible and has become even more flexible in recent years," stresses Elzinga, who warns that "many people are suffering the consequences of it, including the Dutch themselves", since one in three Employees in this country are working with a "flexible and have an unstable relationship" with their employer.

The problems related to temporary jobs, in which there is no guarantee of hours or contract duration, do nothing but grow in the Netherlands and that has placed the violations of labor rights among the main concerns of the unions and Dutch authorities.

Not only Dutch, foreign seasonal workers who come to Holland attracted by job offers to cover times such as Christmas or the collection of flowers do not escape this problem either.

Abuses and deceptions abound in the promises that these workers receive in their country of origin, signing precontracts that are totally different from the reality and the contracts with those who are once in the country, after having self-financed the transfer trip, on many occasions, spending all of their savings.

In several testimonies collected by Efe in recent months, Spanish temporary workers denounce that, after arriving in Holland with labor promises adjusted to the national legality and with a salary that triples the minimum Spanish, they have been forced to sign deceptive contracts in Dutch, which they have led to a spiral of labor abuses, miserable salaries and inadequate housing, which have even created economic debts with the contracting company.

"In the last two years, these flexible, bad and insecure working conditions are having a very negative effect on temporary migrants from all over Europe, including Spain, and what we are now trying to do is improve regulations in the Netherlands. some sectors have more foreign employees than Dutch, and it is more difficult to organize and raise awareness, "he explains.

Cooperation between countries is the "only way to fix the situation", warns Elzinga, to insist that foreign trade unions, labor inspectorates, governments and EU authorities "must work together" to monitor the conditions of mobility of seasonal workers: "Cooperation is very necessary," he adds.

Only last year, some 500 Spaniards denounced at the Consulate in Amsterdam cases of "labor unrest" with Temporary Employment Agencies (ETT), but that does not represent the whole problem because many report once they return to Spain or call by phone when they have already broken the employment relationship with the company, which hinders the legal process to recover their rights.

"Unfortunately, we are receiving many complaints and even so we know that only the tip of the iceberg reaches us, because there are more ETTs that are not organized (within the law) and are not part of federations. : a Spanish temporary worker may be registered in a union in Spain (where he denounces labor abuses), but he is not in a union in the Netherlands, we definitely do not know most of the problems that happen, "he adds.

He assures that the Labor Inspectorate in the Netherlands "takes the reports it receives very seriously", but regrets that only "a small number of complaints" reach them, which do not represent the reality of the problem.

"But we are hearing more and more complaints, many more abuses, many more forms of labor exploitation, which we did not know before, definitely, this is a very big problem and we have to work on it," he stresses.

He acknowledges that some of the temporary recruitment agencies "are involved in totally illegal practices," but adds that "a greater number of agencies are dedicated to evading their obligations, but within the framework of the law." What they do is not illegal but , of course, it is wrong. "

Considers that the laws must be strengthened to "avoid these forms of abuse and exploitation" and shows its concern about stories of Spanish seasonal workers who have reached their ears and see them as "extreme forms of a very hard, dehumanizing and terrible exploitation", concludes.

Imane Rachidi

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