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Alderman: Polish workers welcome

11 April 2007 - Because of housing problems, restrictions for immigrants from new EU-member states should not be lifted, the four largest cities recently wrote in a letter to Parliament. Alderman Tjeerd Herrema now distances himself from the letter.

Until March next year, immigrants from countries such as Poland need a permit to work in the Netherlands. In order to qualify, they must have suitable housing.

It is ‘irresponsible’ to abolish this requirement so soon, wrote Alderman Marnix Norder of the Hague, also on behalf of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht. According to the letter, there is a housing shortage, making immigrants dependent on shady providers of illegal housing.

GroenLinks party leader Judith Sargentini criticised Herrema. Work permits make immigrants dependent on their employer and therefore vulnerable to exploitation, manifesting itself in the form of overtime and underpayment.

Herrema’s spokesperson today confirmed that he distances himself from the letter asking not to lift the work permit requirement. He will inform Parliament of his point of view.

The Netherlands Confederation of Trade Unions (FNV) points out that unions and employers’ organisations have reached an agreement stating that employers will remain responsible for immigrant workers after the abolishment of the work permit. The Confederation finds that employers and municipalities must make arrangements for decent housing.

The Hague municipality announced last week that it has reached an agreement with a trade organisation to provide 50 houses to 200 immigrants. In sum, 15,000 to 20,000 immigrants work in the region.

Amsterdam will not take any measures. According to Herrema’s spokesperson, there is no need to do so, because far less immigrants work in the capital than in the Hague and Rotterdam.


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