Dutch News

6 May 2014
Foreign building contractors exploited at large construction sites

At many construction sites foreign employees are seriously underpaid. Lately a German construction company was banned from the construction of a new highway between Delft and Rotterdam, because they were treating the employees as slaves. But also at other building sites foreign workers from for example Spain and Portugal  are exploited. Due to an extremely vague administration system it is almost impossible to find out about the abuse.

It seems that the construction branch turned into a violent fighting market in which companies have a lot of possibilities to threaten the builders. Usually the contracts with the first two layers of building contractors behave like it should be, but the lower you get into the chain the large the chance that things go wrong and killer contract deals are made.


It is not easy for the authorities to control, because especially with large projects often as many as 20 subcontractors are hired. The administration is still very complicated. Often the foreign employees get two types of pay slips, one for the Netherlands and one for their home country. In controls  should be the solution, but average an inspector visits a company once every 20 years.


One of the Dutch unions complains that they often do not get any information. The companies just do not cooperate. In the end it worked to force the constructors to finally comply with the collective labour agreements at the construction of the A2 tunnel in Maastricht. According to newspapers the Polish and Portuguese  employees were forced by a vague Irish employment agency to pay up to €. 900,= per month for accommodation in very old buildings due for demolition. Also at the construction of the highway A4 Spanish and Portuguese builders were underpaid and exploited.


The Dutch ministry of Social Affairs is working on a new chain liability law that will make companies and consortiums responsible for everything and everybody that works on a construction site. A scientific researcher still thinks it is needed that employers in the construction branch need to be convinced that the lowest price is not always the best solution. 





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