CDA calls for action against illegal workers
11 March 2004
AMSTERDAM — The Christian Democrat CDA party demanded Thursday that the Labour Inspectorate take action against agricultural company Dutch Fresh Foodservice, which allegedly employs a large number of illegal Polish workers.
Christian Democrat MP Gerda Verburg claimed the illegal employment of the foreign workers has defrauded the Dutch government in recent years of millions of euros in taxes and social security contributions.
Speaking on Radio 1 news, the MP said she was “extremely shocked” by the alleged fraud, which she said was particularly prevalent in northern Limburg and Brabant. It is alleged that 2,500 Polish are illegally living and working in the Netherlands.
Verburg has demanded answers from Social Affairs State Secretary Mark Rutte, Dutch associated press ANP reported.
The Polish nationals are mainly hired to work on conifers, strawberries or asparagus. Dutch Fresh Foodservice allegedly buys up all of the produce while it is still in the ground, after which it is sold to a Polish company.
The Polish company is accused of employing the Polish workers to harvest the produce. The workers do not have the legal documents to work in the Netherlands and thus do not pay social security contributions or income tax.
Meanwhile, Verburg also said she could not understand why the Labour Inspectorate had not previously taken action in this case, claiming that the authority had received additional funding to improve its efforts against such crime.
But the inspectorate strongly denied it had failed to take action against the fraud. A spokeswoman said several summons had been issued against Dutch Fresh Foodservice, but it has used a series of legal tactics to defend itself.
One such case went all the way through to the Supreme Court, where the company was found guilty. But due to the continued procedural delays, the inspectorate said the fraud is continuing, newspaper De Telegraaf reported.
The spokeswoman also said the inspectorate often takes action against illegal practices in the agricultural industry, but said the case involving Fresh Foodservice was one of the “most persistent”.
The inspectorate will be given more powers next year under which it can impose immediate fines.
The fraud allegations come after the Cabinet resolved last month that it will continue to demand that Polish workers and other Eastern Europeans obtain a work permit after their countries become a member of the European Union in May.
At present, EU nationals do not need to obtain a work permit to work in other member states, but fearing a huge influx of East European workers, the Dutch government hopes to prevent Dutch nationals missing out on a job and will continue to place restrictions on East and Central European workers for at least two more years.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news