Research confirms SP view: Further opening of borders would lead to increased unemployment

8 February 2006

Research confirms SP view: Further opening of borders would lead to increased unemployment

Further opening of borders for workers from the new EU member states will lead to an increase in unemployment within the Netherlands, especially amongst unskilled and semi-skilled employees. This is the disturbing conclusion of an enquiry conducted on behalf of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment whose findings have been leaked. SP Member of Parliament Jan de Wit, commenting on the report, said: “Here we see confirmed what the SP already, through our own investigations, knew: opening of borders has not been given proper thought. The problems have been deliberately concealed, because more pressure on the labour market is seen as desirable in order to force down wages and undermine social security.”

The SP has already established that thousands of workers and self-employed people have already suffered as a result of the flow of people from the new EU countries. They are losing jobs, having to accept lower wages or contend with unfair competition. Referring to the leader of the right-wing neoliberal governing party, the VVD, Mr De Wit asked whether “the scales would not now fall from the eyes of Mr Van Aartsen, the European Commission and all of the others who are responsible for the further opening of borders? An uncontrolled influx is a threat to many people's employment and to young people's future job prospects, because what are they supposed to do for work if people from Poland, the Czech Republic and soon Romania are willing to come here to work for extremely low wages?

Jan de Wit“The government would like us to believe that there's no real problem. The cabinet and the organisations representing major employers say that only 26,000 people have been given work permits, but have nothing to say about the 50,000 Polish workers with German passports, or the 30.000 people from other eastern European countries, or the 10,000 supposedly self-employed people who, through websites and door-to-door leaflet distribution, are offering their services. There are now in fact more than 100,000 Polish workers employed in the Netherlands, in most cases working long hours for low wages and often sleeping at the workplace. This will only increase if borders are opened still further.

“The situation will become still more serious if workers from Romania and Bulgaria, where wages are even lower than in Poland, are able to try their luck in western Europe, especially if the Services Directive becomes law and foreign corporations are able to employ people in the Netherlands under the laws of whatever country they are registered in.

“It isn't that we begrudge people from the new member states a better future, but that won't be achieved by plunging our labour market into chaos. In the SP's view, anyone who wants to work in the Netherlands must do so under Dutch law and Dutch conditions of employment. But it is precisely this which the government and the multinationals want to put an end to, not for the good of people from the new EU member states, but because they want to exploit people, to use them as an argument for lower wages and the further break-up of social security and pension provision.”

Increase in flow of workers from central and eastern Europe is disrupting labour market

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