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Netherlands – Polish worker numbers falling sharply

09 September 2013

The number of Polish nationals traveling to the Netherlands via staffing agencies has fallen sharply over the past three years, according to the Dutch Federation of Staffing Agencies (ABU). Three years ago, 91% of foreign workers employed by temporary employment agencies were Polish. Polish workers now account for 65% of the 70,000 foreign workers.

At the same time there has been a corresponding increase in the number of workers from Germany, Spain, and Portugal finding jobs in the Netherlands through an agency. Around 130 of the Netherland’s 500 temporary employment agencies recruits from abroad.

The ABU research also showed that very few agencies are preparing to bring in large number of workers from Bulgaria and Romania when the job market becomes fully open to them on the 1st January 2014.

When asked whether agencies are planning later to recruit workers in Romania and Bulgaria 87% responded that they were not. The remaining 13% indicated that they would look for workers in one, or both countries.

Despite this lack of interest the ABU is worried about the flow of migrants that may travel to the Netherlands as soon as the borders open. Jurrien Koops, director of social affairs at ABU, commented: "[What] I see happening is that many fortune seekers from those countries will come here on spec. This makes the flow uncontrolled and uncontrollable. And that makes it easier to fall into the hands of unscrupulous employment agencies. We must try to avoid [this by gathering] good information but especially by taking strong action against rogue traders who are behind hundreds of unscrupulous employment agencies. That is an important task for the Social Affairs Inspectorate in cooperation with the SNCU (Foundation Compliance Collective Employment) and municipalities.” 

The ABU report also highlighted that foreign workers are also staying and working longer in the Netherlands. The average length of stay in 2010 was nine months. This increased to 14 months in 2011. In 2013 the average length of staff for migrant workers in 19 months.  

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