Dutch local authorities are failing to provide enough suitable accommodation for seasonal workers, and opposition from locals is often the reason why, current affairs show Nieuwsuur reported on Sunday evening.
The show’s researchers questioned officials in 40 local authority areas which have a large number of seasonal workers and found many had not reached official housing targets.
In Westland, where much of the country’s greenhouse horticulture is located, 16,000 mainly eastern Europeans are employed picking crops. But the local council has only been able to realise an extra 886 places to stay.
In Tilburg, 3,600 to 5,000 beds are needed but 17 projects have been withdrawn over the past four years. In Vlissingen, three plans to provide 1,000 beds have run into trouble, despite the ‘inhuman conditions’ many seasonal workers are living in.
‘We have nothing against seasonal workers but we are against the scale of the plan opposite our neighbourhood,’ one protestor in Vlissingen told the programme.
Some 500,000 people from other EU countries work in Netherlands, mainly in farming, distribution centres, factories and the meat industry. Many are housed in overcrowded pensions, caravans and holiday parks or even resort to sleeping in tents.
The government has commissioned former Socialist party leader Emile Roemer to look into the problems they face. His report in November recommended stopping agencies providing housing as part of a job contract.
Instead seasonal workers should be given individual rental contracts, their own rooms, and be allowed to stay on the premises for up to a month if they lose their jobs, Roemer said.
He told Nieuwsuur he was shocked by the findings. ‘If you bring in jobs to your area, then you are also obliged to make sure that there is decent housing.’