photo - sxc.hu
The report by the council's European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) says that it is particularly concerned about the situation of Polish agency employees who work in agriculture.
The Council of Europe gives the example of Polish agency workers being used in the mushroom-picking industry, indebted to their employers and living in poor conditions.
Agencies recruit workers in Poland, where "the prospective employee is proposed an “all inclusive package” which includes: employment, transportation from the country of origin to the Netherlands and between the place of work and the living quarters, housing and health insurance," the report, released on Tuesday, says.
"These services must be paid for by the employee and the sums are deducted from his/her salary. This type of arrangement renders the employees extremely vulnerable and dependent on the employer."
"Furthermore, there have been reports that, occasionally, employers keep the employees’ passports. As concerns in particular the housing arrangements, ECRI has been informed that many workers are placed in overcrowded apartments or rooms and are asked to pay for a bed, instead of a room or an apartment," the report continues.
Around 150,00 Poles currently live in the Netherlands - many working in poorly paid and temporary employment - since the Dutch opened their doors to labour from the 'new' EU countries from central Europe.
'Tsunami of immigration'
The report also notes how eastern Europeans have become the target of nationalist and populist politicians such as Geert Wilders and his PVV party, keen to stop immigration to the Netherlands.
A member of The Hague city council responsible for integration matters, Marnix Norder of the Labour Party complained that the city had to process “a tsunami of Eastern Europeans,” the report notes
"In 2011 an MP of the PVV party proposed that people from Poland, Bulgaria and Romania should be deported to their country of origin if they are out of work as “they are often drunk and are involved in petty crime.”
The above examples "create a negative stereotype" of Poles in the Dutch media, says the Council of Europe.
The report also notes discrimination against the Roma gypsy community in the Netherlands and those of North African origin. (pg)