Today the House of Representatives is debating the working conditions of labor migrants. And that is about time, the Netherlands should not be a country of modern slavery and exploitation in the workplace, says Tuur Elzinga.
Headlines reported their vulnerable position painfully surfacing. It has been talked about for a long time, because now the risks were not only for the labor migrants, but also for public health. [read more..]
The year 2020 was a turbulent year and also a year in which the campaign caught fire. Everyone from business to politics now knows that the union gives the labor migrant a voice.
What has helped us a lot is the fact that some employment agencies invest time and attention in the issues we raise. At employment agency Hobij they do this, among other things, by lending a helping hand as soon as possible when we meet labor migrants without a bed & job.
Manager Mitchell Swart has been a tireless help in these situations. For this he received the “ally” of the year 2020 from labor migrant and FNV member Hugo Afecto.
On 22 July, the labor migrants living in Dronten, supported by the campaign team, invited employment agencies EB, Level1 and Marthoflex for an interview. The housing and living conditions in Dronten were on the agenda.
The ‘Protection of Labor Migrants’ team was shown around the labor migrant parks in Dronten and Ter Aar on 13 and 14 July 2020. In conversation with the residents, harsh living conditions became visible.
In contrast to the housing in Dronten, the campaign team ‘Issue of Civilization’ has a progressive collaboration with the park owner in Ter Aar.
On June 18, 2020, migrant workers handed boxing gloves to Emile Roemer with the question ‘Do you want to fight for us?’. Roemer is the head of the Prosecution Team for the Protection of Migrant Workers and in that capacity talks with mayors, aldermen and deputies. The FNV’s ‘Kwestie van Beschaving’ campaign team believes that migrant workers should also be able to learn their story.
Picture: Marcel van den Berg
The FNV ‘Kwestie van Beschaving’ campaign team distributed food packages in collaboration with HAN Netherlands and the Red Cross. The contents of the packages would normally be intended for export, but due to the corona crisis, these products remain in Holland.
Every house in the park in Zeewolde received a package. The Red Cross is aware of the extremely poor position and living environment of migrant workers and has therefore made 300 food packages available.
Julian has been living with eight men in a vacation home on ‘Katjeskelder’ for a month. He doesn’t want to have his last name in the newspaper, because he is afraid of losing his job. It smells musty in the house. The furniture had its best time, but it is clean. Julian is not dissatisfied with the house: “The thermostat works, it looks fine, but sharing one stove and one washing machine with eight people is just too much.”
For the ballpoint pen that migrant workers in Heino are required for their work, they have to pay 1 euro deposit. Is this pen broken or empty? Then this euro will be deducted from your wages. This is an example of how money is made from labor migrants who depend on employment agencies for their home and work.
“The migrants who live in the vacation park have work through the employment agency. According to Bart Plaatje, these foreign people are victims of a revenue model. “They live in pairs in a two-by-two-meter bedroom and pay a hundred euros a week for that,” he explains.
They are also regularly checked. “That happens often, they have to empty their suitcase. Moreover, the temporary employment agency doesn’t allow them to register at the Municipal registry office, ”says Plaatje.
About 60 migrant workers live in the so-called “Poland Hotel” in Marknesse. When you think of a hotel, you quickly think of nice rooms with clean sanitary facilities, but nothing could be further from the truth. The employees, who all pay € 100 per person per week, often sit in one residential unit with far too many people. In many bedrooms no daylight comes in, there is no heating and the mattresses are moldy in many cases.
In Ter Aar, about 200 labor migrants are literally out in the cold. In the houses in the park there is often no heating, mold grows everywhere and the laundry has to be done by hand. Reason enough for the FNV to enter into a dialogue with mayor Buijserd van Nieuwkoop together with the labor migrants.
On Wednesday, October 9, 2019, FNV Vice-President Kitty Jong filed the complaint “Working in the Netherlands, Living behind a fence” with the mayor of Nieuwkoop. The charges were brought up after discussions with the residents of Ter Aar park. The heating often does not work, the fridges are old and depreciated and mold is growing everywhere in the house.
Last summer, residents of the Bosruiterweg and the FNV visited the mayor of Zeewolde. They handed charges against their living and working conditions, and called on the mayor to take responsibility. After the visit to the mayor, the circumstances of the labor migrants were the subject of discussion in the media, national and local politics.
Willem Dekker, FNV consultant
“It cannot be the case that if you lose your job, you are immediately homeless or vice versa”
Meeting for civilization
February 4, 2020, Amsterdam
On February 4, 2020, the FNV organized the first meeting for civilization. It was a meeting where everyone participated as an equal. During the day, labor migrants were the center of attention.
The migrant workers gave workshops that publicize the way they live their lives here.