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18 July 2014

Social dumping: Belgian unions hit out at transport sector fraud

Belgium’s socialist transport workers’ union BTB-UBOT has handed the authorities the names of 85 companies hiring drivers at well below Belgian minimum wage rates via Eastern European subsidiaries.

The scandal was unveiled by Flemish daily De Morgen in a report on 17 July describing how the set-up works. A Belgian haulage firm opens a subsidiary in an Eastern European country which hires local temp agency workers. They are posted to Belgium to transport goods between Belgium and neighbouring countries for the Belgian haulage firm at rates far undercutting those of their Belgian colleagues (6 euros/hour at most instead of 11.5 euros) and are pressurized not to observe the mandatory rest times. As they are employed under the laws of the country they come from, no social security contributions are levied on their wages for paying into the Belgian scheme.

These social dumping “techniques” have been on the rise in recent years, and have become the focus of controversy in the EU as European law – especially the recently revised Posted Workers Directive - has so far failed to curb these abuses.

"Social dumping" will be one of the hot topics discussed at the ETUI-ETUC 'Europe at a crossroads' conference in Brussels from 24-26 September. A special panel 'Europe: from social model to social dumping' will see five academics presenting the latest research on this issue.

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