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Dutch News
Holland ready for new EU workers 2/16/2007
AMSTERDAM - The Netherlands is ready to open its borders to workers from Poland and the other countries of Central and Eastern Europe who joined the EU on 1 May 2004. Outgoing State Secretary for Social Affairs and Employment Henk van Hoof wrote this in a letter to Parliament recently.

In his letter the state secretary gives an overview of the status of the policy drawn up to smooth the transition. This “flanking policy” consists of agreements to ensure that workers from the new member states receive the same pay as other EU workers.

The government hopes these agreements, which will take effect as soon as the borders are opened, will prevent Dutch workers from being elbowed off the labour market by unfair competition.

In Van Hoof’s opinion, the Netherlands should be able to open its borders on 1 March, but, he adds, it is still up to the government to decide whether this will actually take place.

Van Hoof had promised to send this letter before 1 February but wanted to wait until a date was set for the Senate’s discussion of amendments to the Minimum Wage Act. It was announced today that the topic has been put on the agenda for 27 February but that this is really just a formality. This means that the amendment can take effect as of 1 March. The amendment will make it possible to fine employers who pay below minimum wage.

There have also been changes on certain points in the agreements with employers and workers on monitoring compliance. Companies who hire in personnel will be encouraged to deal only with certified employment agencies. The agreements now also contain a passage elaborating on employers’ responsibility to ensure suitable housing for their workers from abroad.

The labour inspectorate has made agreements with the employers’ organisations and trade unions in the sectors that expect large numbers of workers from the “new” EU member states, the construction and horticulture industries, for instance.

A contact point has also been set up at the labour inspectorate so that employers and workers can report any violations or suspected non-compliance with collective labour agreements. The labour inspectorate will then start an investigation into the matter as soon as possible.

Van Hoof writes that opening up the labour market to workers from the new member states would be beneficial for the Dutch labour market at the moment.

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