A Dutch transport company has been ordered by the Arnhem-Leeuwarden Court of Appeal to give 10 Hungarian lorry drivers back pay for failing to pay them a salary in line with Dutch requirements. Amber Zwanenburg, PhD candidate at Erasmus School of Law, conducts research into these deceptive arrangements in the transport sector, among others, and responds to this ruling in the 8pm broadcast of NOS Journaal.
After ten years, Trade union federation FNV finally launched an investigation into the payment of Hungarian lorry drivers in the Netherlands, resulting in a definitive ruling. The court has ruled that Hungarian lorry drivers who have worked for a company based in the Netherlands should be paid a Dutch salary instead of the Hungarian (lower) salary that they have now been paid. It makes no difference that the drivers' employment contract has been formally concluded with a Hungarian sister company. The subdistrict court has yet to determine at what level the salary will be established.
Abuse of circumstances
With this ruling, the Court of Appeal has clearly defined how the country of employment should be determined. The Hungarian sister company's argument that drivers start work in their hometown in Hungary has been overruled, according to Amber Zwanenburg. “However, the question of whether other foreign drivers who drive for Dutch transport companies should now also receive a Dutch wage cannot be answered in general”, according to Zwanenburg.
Companies use these deceptive arrangements to keep costs low. The constructions are detrimental to migrant workers but also to tax revenues in the Netherlands. There is a good chance that companies will adjust their working methods in this area because the court's ruling is so clearly formulated. “As long as there are many differences between wage costs in the EU member countries, there will always be companies looking for the grey area and trying to find structures with which they can reduce costs, simply because it pays,” says Zwanenburg in the 8 pm broadcast of NOS Journaal.