SP Senator Kox: ‘EU has a blind spot for the negative consequences of labour migration’

6 November 2013

SP Senator Kox: ‘EU has a blind spot for the negative consequences of labour migration’

‘The government’s proposal to improve the rules on the entry of poorly paid and poorly educated labour from outside the European Union is sensible and has our support. But it is sad that we can no longer, from January 1st, 2014, within the EU establish these kinds of rules when it comes to restricting the entry of Bulgarian and Romanian workers.’ This was how SP Senator Tiny Kox expressed both praise for but also criticism of government policy during the debate in the Senate on the revision of the Law on Foreign Labour.

Tiny KoxKox supports Employment Minister Lodewijk Asscher ‘s proposals to improve the regulation of work permits from outside the EU. ‘The proposal will lead to more certainty in the law, more temporary permits, less competition around working conditions and less underpayment and exploitation,’ he says. ‘It means that we will no longer be on a downward slope as regards working conditions, but will take a step up. That’s good for everyone. ‘ Kox points to the 1,700 work permits issued in 2011 for poorly educated and poorly paid people employed in Chinese takeaways. ‘More than 70% of all Dutch snack bars are owned by people of Chinese origin while the number of actual Chinese restaurants is declining. This does not seem to me to make any sense, bringing people here from China to fry chips in restaurants and cafeterias. We can do that ourselves. If vacancies remain unfilled, it’s not down to training in cookery but to the working conditions, and that is therefore what we should be doing something about.’ Asscher, according to what was said in the debate, agrees. He called Chinese takeaways ‘a risk sector’, where more inspections are needed, and in general underlined the need to limit the import of low paid, low-skilled workers.

In Kox’s view it is disappointing, however, that these steps in the right direction cannot be taken when it comes to migration from other EU member states. Bringing workers from Bulgaria and Romania here leads to the same negative effects for workers. Completely free movement of labour within the EU is under current circumstances good for neither our society nor for Romania or Bulgaria. Soon workers from Ukraine will move to those countries to fill the gaps created when Romanian and Bulgarian labour relocates to western Europe.’

Kox described it as ‘progress’ that the Employment Minister was not suffering from the blind spot which Dutch government policies had long had when it came to the negative effects of a completely free labour market in the EU. However, he said, ‘the European Commission does have this blind spot and is forcing us into full opening of our borders. It’s good that the Minister has now made known his major worries regarding these negative effects to Brussels. But it’s now a matter of actually doing something. Better to turn around when you realise you’re going up a blind alley. That’s what government policy should now be aimed at.’

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