Greenhouse Horticulture Netherlands is very concerned about the labor market advice that the Social and Economic Council (SER) issued to the cabinet this week. The association fears, among other things, an increase in the costs of hiring temporary workers.
The SER, which includes employers’ and employees’ organizations, wants to put an end to the growth of flexible work by reforming the labor market. According to the social partners, the interventions are necessary because there is increasing inequality and social dissatisfaction in the Netherlands. In a new advisory report, they advocate, among other things, the abolition of zero-hours contracts. Furthermore, working on a temporary contract should only last for a maximum of three years.
…realize an adequate work-to-work infrastructure for people who have to change jobs, so that there is always a prospect of new work now that demand is high in many sectors while others are shrinking. This gives people new security and we help them find a job before they become unemployed.
Greenhouse Horticulture Netherlands also supports tackling improper flexible constructions. The introduction of mandatory certification for employment agencies, coupled with strict enforcement by the government, can play a role in this.
However, the association fears a cost increase when hiring seasonal workers. ‘This has major consequences for both the employer and the employee. That is unacceptable’, says chairman Adri Bom-Lemstra of Greenhouse Horticulture Netherlands.
Temporary employment agencies will pass on the higher cost price in the rate to the greenhouse horticultural entrepreneur, Bom-Lemstra expects. ‘However, they cannot pass this on to the retailer and the consumer. After all, they are not prepared to pay more for the products.’
Greenhouse horticulture in the Netherlands fears that the (international) competitive position will deteriorate as a result of the labor market advice if there is no accompanying policy to compensate for the cost increase. “The situation is getting worse. Given the average working hours in our sector, the introduction of a statutory minimum hourly wage will increase wage costs by 5 percent’, says Blom-Lemstra. She says it is striking that the SER advice has not been calculated on the financial consequences of the direct stakeholders.
Exception seasonal work
Greenhouse Horticulture Netherlands is positive about the proposal to give seasonal work an exceptional position with an annual hours model. The question is, however, what is meant by the annual hours model and how this is worked out in a practical sense.
‘At the same time, it is not understood why the SER, now that seasonal work has been laid down in law, does not give advice on the introduction of a low unemployment insurance premium for temporary employment contracts for seasonal work. Precisely this would be a great incentive for hiring employees’, emphasizes the chairman of Greenhouse Horticulture Netherlands.
There are also questions about the ‘opting out’ for the second year of sick leave. According to the association, this offers an apparent solution, because the premium that must be paid for this is based on the entire workforce.
The restitution of the high unemployment insurance premium upon conversion from a fixed-term employment contract to a permanent employment contract, if so intended, is regarded as positive. The sector is also committed to this as part of the International Employees Master Plan.
Members of Greenhouse Horticulture Netherlands support the aim of giving employees more net control at the level of the statutory minimum wage. However, this advice does not indicate how this can actually be achieved.
‘Increasing without an accompanying fiscal policy is good for the government, because of the payment obligations to the tax authorities. However, the employee will only see a limited increase in his net salary in this. However, the government can use this increased contribution to finance the increasingly expensive benefits, which are also linked to the WML with this advice. The employer pays the full bill’, concludes Adri Bom-Lemstra.