Tourist tax threat used to force migrants to register as residents
More local councils are forcing companies which employ migrant labour to register their foreign workers as official residents, in an effort to stop them living under the radar, Nos television reports on Tuesday.
Two years ago, Westland council near Rotterdam became the first to pressure employers in an effort to boost registration, which is compulsory for everyone living in the Netherlands for more than four months.
Westland is at the heart of the Dutch fruit and vegetable industry where efforts are being made to stop the exploitation of migrant workers by putting them up in substandard, expensive accommodation.
Now, at least 17 local authorities are taking the same approach, Nos says. Companies which don't comply face having to pay tourist tax for each non-registered worker instead. This can be as much as €2.30 per worker per night.
Nos says according to the national statistics office CBS, there are nearly 590,000 migrant workers from central and eastern Europe in the Netherlands, but only half of them are officially registered as living here.
Zundert in Noord-Brabant took the Westland approach this spring, using the threat of tourist tax as a lever. ‘Last year we had 700 labour migrants on our register and now we have 1,300,' a council spokesman told Nos.
A number of local authority areas in Noord Holland province are planning to take the same steps this autumn.
By not registering, workers can avoid local taxes but miss out on other benefits such as housing subsidies. Many new arrivals are also not aware they have to register with their local council.