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Netherlands – Recruitment agency accused of exploiting staff

30 October 2013

A recruitment agency with annual revenue of more than €12 million has been accused of exploiting workers from Eastern Europe, reports Dutch newspaper Trouw. The agency, Werk & Ik, has been accused by Trouw of forcing temporary workers to work long hours and for less than minimum wage.

The agency, which counts Schiphol airport, Swissair, and Amsterdam’s RAI exhibition centre amongst its clients, was a finalist in a competition last year to find Amsterdam’s best entrepreneur. During the deliberation process, the agency was praised by judges for its creative approach and for managing to make a profit despite the recruitment sector shrinking.

Trouw has accused Werk & Ik of failing to provide its workers with pay slips and deducting €2.50 from their hourly wages for providing a bed for them in a garage. As a result, the workers are charged €150 per week for their ‘accommodation’. The company also fails to provide the workers with holiday pay, as required by law.

Werk & Ik has approximately 1,200 temporary workers on its books with some of them working up to 20 hours each day. Something agency owner Ivan Kerels told Trouw was as a result of the workers begging for additional hours.

According to Mr Kerels, the company had grown too quickly and they still needed to get their paperwork and play slips organised. “I am simply an entrepreneur who works hard and wants to grow quickly. [As a result] you get growing pains,” he told Trouw  

The company is currently under investigation by a special foundation that looks into the way staffing agencies comply with the central pay and conditions agreements for temporary and flexible staff. 

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