Urban decline and exploitation of workers results of unrestricted labour migration from Eastern Europe

29 September 2011

Urban decline and exploitation of workers results of unrestricted labour migration from Eastern Europe

‘Exploitation of employees and problems in certain neighbourhoods could have been prevented if successive governments had kept a closer eye on migration of workers from Eastern Europe. The Netherlands clearly does not have its own house in order sufficiently to be able to receive so many guests.’ So says SP Member of Parliament Sadet Karabulut in reaction to the report from the temporary parliamentary commission which, on an initiative from the SP, has looked into the consequences of recent labour migration into the Netherlands from Central and Eastern Europe.

Sadet Karabulut“That workers would be exploited and neighbourhoods and recreation parks become rundown is precisely what the SP has been warning of since the very start,” says Karabulut. “The commission states, just like the SP, that the 6,000 bogus employment bureaux must be closed down, root and branch. I completely agree with this, because these bureaux are responsible for a great deal of suffering amongst Eastern European workers and because they also ensure that these workers will provide unfair competition for Dutch workers. I expect the government to follow the commission’s recommendations, and quickly.”

The commission established that the Netherlands is in no condition to offer decent jobs to the influx of labour migrants from Central and Eastern Europe. “Exploitation and the underpayment of employees could have been prevented,” insists Karabalut. “These problems have now got out of hand, and must be tackled firmly.” Referring to the Dutch system of annual national wage and conditions agreements, known as CAOs, which cover many sectors, he adds that “the recommendation that a CAO authority should be instituted, with far-reaching powers enabling it to enforce CAOs and also demand payment of unpaid wages, would provide an important weapon in the fight against exploitation and for the guarantee of equal pay for equal work.” ’

In total there are at least 200,000 Central and Eastern European (CEE) workers in the Netherlands, whose total population is under 17 million. This means that there are ten times as many migrants from these areas as the government predicted in 2004, when ten new member states, eight of them in the CEE region, entered the European Union. The Commission also predicts that in the immediate future the number of CEE immigrants is likely to increase still further. “That the commission made no statement about regulation of the influx of labour migrants from CEE countries represents a missed opportunity,” says Karabalut. “These alarming conclusions must get a better response than mopping up with the tap still on. The commission says that the effects of labour migration should be figuring on the European political agenda. In the SP’s view, the Netherlands must take back control over access to the Dutch labour market. “

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