Ukrainian workers exploited in Westland greenhouses: report
Ukrainians who work in greenhouses in Westland are being exploited, RTL Nieuws and trade union CNV report. At least one company has a group of Ukrainian workers who are not allowed to complain about their employment conditions or risk deportation or a hefty fine, they report based on documents in CNV's possession and conversations RTL had with Ukrainian employees.
"Completely immoral and reprehensible," Henry Stroek of CNV said about the contracts the union has in its possession. "It states, among other things, that employees can be deported to Ukraine if they violate the rules."
This involves a group of about 30 Ukrainian refugees working at plant nursery Vreugdenhil Bulbs & Plants in 's-Gravenzande in Westland through the Polish employment agency Janpol. They signed a contract with Janpol for three months of work at a Dutch plant nursery in the municipality of Westland. The contract states that, for an unspecified fee, Janpol will arrange their documents, transport them to the Netherlands, and provide accommodation.
The contract also includes a whole list of things employees are not allowed to do. For example, they can be fined 500 euros if they contact the Dutch nursery about labor issues. And if they stop working before the three-month contract is over, they have to hand in 20 percent of their salary.
RTL spoke to several women working at Vreugdenhil Bulbs & Plants who fled from Ukraine to Poland and signed up with Janpol to find work. They said they all had to pay different amounts to the employment agency for their documents, and they don't know how much of their salary Janpol will keep and how much they'll get. "An amount will be deducted from our salary for tax, but also for our accommodation and transport. We do not know how much that is. We hear from people who have been working for Janpol for some time that everyone gets different salaries for the same work."
They've also been working for a month but will only get their first wages on June 20th. So they have almost no money for basic necessities like food and clothing. "They have all our data, and we don't know what will happen to us if we criticize them. It's mafia practices," one woman said, according to the broadcaster.
According to the anti-human trafficking center Comensha, this is human trafficking because Dutch and Polish employers "seriously abuse other people's vulnerable position" to exploit them. "This employer knows very well that they are doing something completely wrong," Comensha director Ina Hut said to the broadcaster.