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A new collective agreement in the Netherlands which will affect 600,000 agency workers in the country is set to increase pay rates for contingent staff and continue the battle against rogue agencies.
Trade unions and the association of employment agencies (ABU) have come to a five-year agreement on Thursday, which the unions have hailed as a “victory.” Although the agreement still has to be officially sealed off, it is set to come into force on 5 November this year and will see better working conditions for agency staff.
FNV Bondgenoten, the largest trade union in the Netherlands, said the collective agreement signals an important step for the industry in ensuring “equal pay for equal work.” Union leader Mariette Patijn told Staffing Industry Analysts in a phone interview that FNV had been fighting for this agreement for 15 years.
Ms Patijn confirmed that the new agreement will cover a number of important changes, most prominently on equal pay. “There will be a big change in 2015”, she said, as “temporary workers will get the same pay as permanent workers from day one.” Currently, she explained, agency workers receive equal pay after six months into a job, which she said can be “a long time for many people.”
The agreement is also going to tackle rogue agencies in the country as controls will be tightened on staffing firms. Monitoring will be increased through the SNCU (Stichting Naleving CAO voor Uitzendkrachten), a Dutch foundation supervising the compliance of recruitment companies with collective agreements for temporary workers.
Staffing firms receive a certificate for good practice, which is only issued if it can be proved they stick to the rules and pay agency workers the correct wages. Ms Patijn said up to 700 staffing firms could go out of business for not being able to meet stricter requirements. She said this would especially impact Eastern European recruitment companies. There are currently around 2,700 certified staffing firms, some of which are not members of the ABU.
Other changes covered in the collective agreement will provide better training opportunities for low-skilled agency workers through the establishment of a €1 million fund, Ms Patijn said.