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Netherlands: "Greenhouse industry a reminder of slavery"

Last week, Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf published an extensive and highly critical article about the working and living conditions of temporary workers in the Dutch greenhouses. "While trusses of bright red cherry tomatoes are tenderly placed into luxury designer boxes, the people who pick them get a treatment that is a reminder of slavery," according to the newspaper.

The editors of De Telegraaf have filmed at the home of a number of Polish labor migrants and asked about their working conditions. According to the article, the group needs to pay 5,600 euros a month for miserable living conditions - including rats - and revealed dangerous working conditions in the greenhouses. Sexual intimidation also occurs regularly according to the newspaper and there would even be a question of a meat inspection with the temporary workers.

De Telegraaf has also contacted various employment and payrolling agencies. They are not aware of the situation. However,  Trade Union FNV noticed that in recent years there has hardly been any improvement in solving the  exploitation and underpayment of Eastern European labor force.

On social media, there are extensive and strong reactions to the article. It is scandalous, the cesspool of the Netherlands, exploitation; the image of horticulture is not improving. Yet also another side is mentioned. "Just as in the transport sector, this is about undermining our entire social system, which ultimately will work out negatively for everyone except a small select group of people who will fill their pockets with exorbitant profits."

LTO Glaskracht
Horticulture industry body LTO Glaskracht Nederland has responded to the article and disapproves of abuse of personnel working in greenhouse horticulture. "Personnel is important and is not considered a commodity. Which means that the work must be safe and healthy. And that labor migrants are paid according to the Collective Labor Agreement (CAO) and that their housing complies with the standards laid down in the CAO," says Sjaak van der Tak . "The messages from De Telegraaf give a shocking picture of some abuses. LTO Glaskracht supports action against these types of abuse by the SZW Inspectorate and Stichting Naleving Cao for Temporary Workers (SNCU) and has frequent contact with these agencies."

Publication date: 11/13/2017



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