More illegal workers caught at Brussels sites

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About 650 illegal workers have been caught working at building sites in Brussels.

5 August 2008

BELGIUM - Inspectors working for the Brussels judicial authorities have caught as many as 650 illegal workers at building sites across Brussels as of Tuesday.

Illegal workers cannot present the necessary legal documents. Most of them are without a residence permit and a work permit.

One in two offences concerns foreign workers.

"The figures show a 50 percent increase", explains Jan Geysen of the Brussels judicial body responsible for the checks.

"Last year, about 1 in 3 heavy offences in the building sector concerned illegal work. This year, this number has risen to 1 in 2."

An 'official' worker – whether he is of Belgian or foreign nationality – will cost the company EUR 25 per hour whereas an illegal worker costs EUR 5.

Suitable candidates hard to find
The building sector has a number of so-called bottle neck professions, for which suitable candidates can hardly be found.

The federal government has made it easier for foreign workers to get a work permit for these so-called 'unattractive' professions, but this has not helped in wiping out illegal workers in the sector.

Speaking for the building sector, Veronique Vanderbruggen claims that the figures do not mean that there are more illegal workers, but that there are more rigid checks being carried out.

"We have a bad reputation where illegal work is concerned, but we're leaving no stone unturned to wipe out illegal deals. We support the increased checks."

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