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Belgium – Unions want to fine employment agencies

03 July 2012

After a new investigation has revealed that nearly a third of temporary employment agencies in Belgium still discriminate against candidates, two of Belgium’s largest trade unions, ACV and ABVV, have criticised the failure of the Flemish Labour Minister to intervene.

The unions united their voices and claimed that the Government had promised “zero tolerance” against staffing firms discriminating against candidates in any form. The unions have also said that more needs to be done to tackle the issue efficiently and urged to fine employment agencies which are found out to use discriminatory practices.

They criticised, in particular, the Flemish Labour Minister Philippe Muyters who said that the temporary staffing industry is already making efforts to put an end to discrimination via various self-regulation policies. Mr Muyters said the temporary staffing industry is the only sector to handle the issue in such a way, providing an example to other industries. But he was clear on the fact that licenses of staffing firms cannot easily be revoked should they discriminate against applicants, responding to calls from critics who have demanded more action.

Mr Muyters also pointed out that smaller staffing firms tend to offend more often than larger firms as investigations have revealed. “The unions need to realise that discrimination against immigrants in the first place is a broad social problem and is not only one [affecting] employment agencies,” Mr Muyters said. He also argued that the unions had failed to see the progress the staffing industry has already made and emphasised that temporary work offers a springboard into permanent employment, especially for young people and migrants. 

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