Dutch ‘model’ corporation exploits Czech workers


This video from Australia says about itself:

Ombudsman investigates foreign worker exploitation

The Fair Work Ombudsman is investigating claims temporary foreign workers on an inappropriate visa have been paid as little as $3/hour.

Exploitation of foreign workers does not happen only in Australia … in Qatar … and, in the Netherlands, not only in Maastricht

Translated from Trouw daily in the Netherlands:

Model company turns out to be exploiter

Maaike Bos – 10/30/13, 08:33

An employment agency which includes KLM royal Dutch airlines and other companies at Schiphol airport among its customers turns out to violate systematically labour rights of its Eastern European workers. These workers not only get paid too little and they work for too long, they also have to pay a lot of money for illegal places to sleep.

According to research by Trouw, the company, Werk & Ik, had a good reputation. Last year it participated in the contest for the Amsterdam Business Award 2012, where it reached the finals. The jury praised the company because it managed to be profitable in a declining temporary employment market with creative solutions. It exists since 2009, has an annual turnover of about 12 million annually, and employs 1200 people a year, including eighty to one hundred Czechs.

The research shows that the company does not provide paychecks, which are required by law. It usually pays an hourly wage which is too low and, as investigated cases show, does not pay any holiday bonuses. That may cost temporary workers hundreds of euros a season.

Drivers sometimes have to work for twenty hours, with virtually no break. The drivers said: ” When you come home after midnight from work, you have to choose: eating, sleeping for an hour or taking a shower. You won’t manage all three of these, because then the next working day already starts again.”

Raid

The company also charges its workers lots of money. For a bed in a garage which is not intended for habitation, Werk & Ik charges 2.50 euro per hour worked. So, it soon costs 150 euros per week to rent a bed.

The municipality of Amsterdam this Monday raided the premises, and ordered landlord and employer to vacate them immediately. According to Amsterdam alderwoman Els Verdonk intervention was necessary: “In applying the law we have a choice: are things quiet or is there a danger? In this case we could not just send an angry letter, but we had to act immediately.” In the raid , two inspectors of the Inspectorate of Social Affairs and Employment questioned the agency workers present. The local authority report speaks about ‘exploitation’.

Symptomatic

The owner of Werk & Ik, Ivan Charles, acknowledges that things have gone wrong. He blames the rapid growth of his business and lack of control in the workplace. He also says that the Czechs themselves wanted to live in the garage. Charles confirmed that there is an investigation into his company by the Foundation for Compliance of Temporary Employment Rules (SNCU) . Also, the Social Affairs Inspectorate has started an investigation.

According to the Christian National Professionals trade union [CNV] the abuses are symptomatic of the temporary work industry. Werk & Ik has the certificate of the Labour Standards Foundation (SNA), which is supposed to ensure proper minimum wage payments and to prevent excessive deductions.

That certificate was just renewed this spring, while the study by Trouw shows that the illegal ways of payment already happened in 2012. Henry Stroek of CNV Professionals calls the certification system “as leaky as a sieve.”

3 thoughts on “Dutch ‘model’ corporation exploits Czech workers

  1. Pingback: Versatile Blogger Award, thanks Horty! | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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