SP calls for parliamentary debate on open borders for workers from new EU member states

1 December 2006

SP calls for parliamentary debate on open borders for workers from new EU member states

SP Member of Parliament Jan de Wit wants to see a parliamentary debate on the government's determination to open the Dutch labour market fully to workers from Poland and seven other central and eastern European countries in just under a month from now. The cabinet issued a statement today to the effect that sufficient measures had now been taken to prevent the creation of unfair competition in the labour market, but the SP remains unconvinced.

Jan de WitThe government has announced plans to remove from 1st January all remaining barriers to the entry of workers from Poland, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech republic. SP Member of Parliament and labour market spokesman Jan de Wit is opposed to this on the grounds that the measures taken are insufficient to prevent unfair competition. “They're only looking at how quickly and easily possible vacancies can be filled,” he said. “Absolutely no attention has been given to the consequences for people currently working in the building trade, industry or agriculture, the people who will be affected by unfair competition. Or indeed for the tens of thousands of people currently seeking work, including people with a work-related disability and women returning to the labour market. Employers will never be willing to invest in these people if they can just as easily attract workers from Poland or Hungary. The result will be a reduction of labour market opportunities for a whole generation currently following school-based training courses to become painters and decorators, joiners, mechanics or plumbers. Bogus self-employment enables the collective work agreements which guarantee decent wages to workers in most sectors to be bypassed and workers from places like Lithuania to be employed on wages as low as €800 per month. Our young people cannot compete with that. We are effectively ensuring that we will have high levels of unemployment and that many more people will have to apply for welfare benefits.”

Members of Parliament from the PvdA (Labour Party) and governing Christian Democrats (CDA) have previously expressed criticism of the cabinet’s intention to open the borders without first introducing effective conditions. Mr De Wit is urging them not to approve the overhasty decision by Social Affairs and Employment Secretary Henk Van Hoof and to leave a new decision on the issue until coalition negotiations have been satisfactorily completed and a new government is in place.

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