Dutch Say No to Romania and Bulgaria Workers

Radio Netherlands, June 25, 2008

A majority in parliament is opposed to opening Dutch borders to workers from Romania and Bulgaria despite a serious labour shortage.

Social Affairs Minister Piet Hein Donner wants to admit Romanian and Bulgarian workers from 1 January 2009 but parliament, including the main coalition parties the Christian Democrats (CDA) and Labour (PvdA), believe the current problems with Polish workers should be solved first.

The conservative VVD says estimates of the number of Poles who would come to work in the Netherlands were way off the mark.

Instead of the expected 15,000, as many as 1,207,000 Polish workers migrated to the Netherlands, leading to serious problems. The VVD says it ought to be at least another three years before Romanians and Bulgarians are allowed to work in the country.

Minster Donner’s own party, the CDA, agrees that the minister is moving too fast, while Labour argues there is not enough housing and the issue of exploitation by slum landlords needs to be dealt with first.

The Socialist Party says the minister is not taking the issue seriously and appears to be living in a dream world.

Towns and cities facing problems providing housing for Polish workers say the government still underestimates the situation.

Some urban councils say the borders should remain closed for longer for new groups such as Bulgarians and Romanians. At present, these nationalities need a permit to work here, and the councils want this situation to remain unchanged.

In 2008, inspectors discovered 170 houses illegally occupied by East European workers.

On Thursday, the city councils will meet Minister Donner to discuss their problems. However, he argues that the government is increasingly successful in bringing the exploitation and illegal accommodation of East European workers under control.

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