Time for an action plan on labour migration

20 April 2018

Time for an action plan on labour migration

Labour migration, principally from eastern Europe, must be much better regulated. The uncontrolled influx of migrant workers is leading to trouble, to repression and exploitation. SP Member of Parliament Jasper van Dijk has five proposals to regulate the movement of workers.

Since the expansion of the EU into central and eastern Europe, the number of migrant workers in the Netherlands has grown enormously to around 400,000. For some 100,000 of these no housing is available. Villages with fewer then 2,000 inhabitants have seen the arrival of hundreds of migrant workers. The local community is dislocated as a consequence and this regularly leads to trouble.

Housing is often poor, with eight to twelve people per room in a house intended for a single family. For this, migrant workers have to pay through the nose. This is a profitable model for the landlords, often the same people who own the employment agencies which bring the migrant workers to the Netherlands. This disrupts the local housing market.

Employers profit from cheap labour, but give no thought to the disruption which results. All too often these include exploitation and unfair competition. Furthermore, Dutch workers seeking employment or looking to work more hours are completely passed over.

To address these problems, the SP has developed a five point Action Plan on Labour Migration:

  1. Equal pay for equal work and an end to unfair competition. The wages, working conditions and social payments of migrant workers must not be lower than those for Dutch workers, because this leads to a playing field which is far from level, and to exploitation. Revenue models, such as tying accommodation to employment, must be tackled. An operators' licence for employment agencies should be introduced, making it possible to eradicate rogue firms. Repeated violations? The owner would in such cases face a lifetime ban from receiving any more licenses.
  2. There are still a large number of Dutch workers who cannot find employment. We should begin by helping people who are looking for work or looking to work more hours before we turn to migrant labour.
  3. Learning the language is extremely important, in order to participate in Dutch society and avoid dangerous situations in the workplace. For this reason, we will make it obligatory for employers to enable migrant workers to learn Dutch.
  4. Maintain close surveillance of housing, working conditions and conditions of employment of migrant workers. Enforce the rules as demanded by Dutch law. Enforce the rules as laid down in Dutch law. By increasing the number of inspectors at the labour inspectorate, the SP will ensure that these rules are properly complied with.
  5. Migrant workers deserve decent housing and stuffing them into inadequate accommodation must be stopped. Local authorities will be given the power to ensure a good spread of housing, for instance by imposing a maximum number per street, and agreeing a maximum number of inhabitants per dwelling in order to guarantee quality of life.

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