Unions call for action on flexible and zero-hour work contracts
Workers on flexible and call-out contracts are being exploited and need better protection in law, the trade union federation FNV says.
The union received 600 complaints to a special hotline set up last year to monitor the position of people on flexible contracts. Some 400,000 people in the Netherlands are thought to work as flexible employees.
In particular, health service workers contacted the hotline with complaints, the FNV said. The retail trade, hospitality industry and local government also came in for criticism. Many people said they are not paid when sick, even though they should be by law, while others said permanent staff doing the same job got paid more.
The FNV is especially angry about zero hour contracts, in which workers have no fixed number of hours and can be called in to work at will.
Social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher said he will not take any action to improve the position of flexible staff until unions and employers have concluded their talks on a new social contract.
Unions and employers are currently trying to reach agreement on a broad sweep of economic reforms, including changes to employment and redundancy law.
'Since the start of the crisis, companies have done all they can to find ways through the law to cut wage costs by using these minimal contracts,' FNV spokeswoman Catelene Passchier told news agency ANP. 'Of course companies are under pressure, but it is not only workers who should pay the price.'