Cleaning products (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Thekohser) - Credit: Cleaning products (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Thekohser)
Domestic workers exploited by diplomats in the Netherlands
Over the past five years the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs received 26 complaints from domestic workers working for diplomats in embassies in the Netherlands. These complaints involve underpayment, poor working conditions and "inappropriate behavior", the Volkskrant reports based on documents in its possession. According to FairWork, a non-profit organization dedicated to workers who are exploited in the Netherlands, the complaints come from about 14 different embassies in the Netherlands. These include Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, India, Somalia, Bolivia and Ghana. The International Criminal Court and European Patent Office also received complaints. Exploited workers come from the Philippines, Indonesia, Africa and South America. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs would not confirm which embassies are involved. Foreign Affairs intervened in a few cases over the past years. Three workers were paid back wages after mediation. In two cases tickets were given to exploited workers so that they could return home. And the Public Prosecutor handled a suspicion of a sex offense, but the case was dropped after the accused diplomat returned to his home country. In total about 140 domestic workers are employed in embassies in the Netherlands. Tackling the exploitation of this group is complicated, as diplomats are inviolable due to diplomatic immunity. The Ministry can withdraw a diplomat's privilege to domestic servants, but this sanction has not yet been used. The Ministry did take several measures to encourage domestic workers to report exploitation. For example, a domestic worker has to collect their residency permit from the Ministry in person, during which time she is made aware of all her rights. The housing staff of foreign diplomats are also called to the Ministry every six months for a personal discussion about any abuses or irregularities. FairWork would like exploited domestic workers to receive compensation through an independent arbitration panel. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is investigating the need for such a panel, a spokesperson said to the Volkskrant.