Migrant workers dare not make a case when labor law problems arise

Labor migrants especially in the lowest income groups have more frequent labor disputes than the Dutch working population, but do not dare to file formal cases about them for fear of being fired. Those are the main conclusions in the recently published report "De aanpak van arbeidsrechtelijke problemen onder arbeidsmigranten," which Tilburg researchers Anna Sobczyk-Turek and Jan Cremers collaborated on for the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment.

I&O Research recently conducted research on the extent and nature of labor law enforcement among working people in the Netherlands. For the section on labor migrants, the panel survey conducted by the Knowledge Center for Labor Migrants in collaboration with the Tilburg Law School was used. Sobczyk-Turek and Cremers summarized the results of this fourth panel in a separate publication.

Lowest incomes

This shows that problems are significantly more common compared to the Dutch working population: in the surveyed group of labor migrants (N=192), 63 percent have experienced labor law conflicts (for the Dutch working population in I&O Research’s survey: 35 percent). The most common problems occurring mainly in the lowest income groups in the past five years are related to wages, working hours, undesirable behavior and the labor contract. Such labor law conflicts have a great impact on migrants’ emotional burden and financial situation.

The poll does not provide a representative picture of all migrant workers in the Netherlands. Nevertheless, the results give insight into immigrant labor experiences with labor conflicts and possible strategies to resolve them.

The most common reason for not talking to the employer or not starting official proceedings in case of a conflict is the fear of negative consequences (such as deterioration of the relationship with the employer or being fired). Consequently, most migrant workers are not satisfied with the outcome of their case.

For more information, contact science editor Tineke Bennema, at persvoorlichters@tilburguniversity.edu or 4668998. The report can be found here.

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