Working practices of meat processors in Amsterdam are unsafe and unfair

Five meat processors in Amsterdam are in violation of safe and fair working practices. This is apparent from an inspection by the Inspectorate SZW in collaboration with the national police force. One of the five companies had previously received a fine from the Inspectorate of more than 28 thousand Euros.

Various violations have been found in the field of working conditions. The violations ranged from a failure to wear the mandatory protective clothing to the absence of protective guards at machines and other required safety equipment, thereby exposing employees to serious hazards. On some machines, even the emergency button failed.

Production shut down

In total, the Inspectorate issued 14 warnings for unsafe working practices. In six cases, part of the production process even had to be shut down, albeit temporarily.

Despite it being a well-organised sector, with its own Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (to identify and limit risks), occupational health and safety catalogue and additional agreements on working conditions, according to the Inspectorate SZW safety awareness was not particularly high.

Probably underpayment

The Inspectorate SZW also found violations in the field of fair working practices. Around 80 employees were surveyed during the inspections, both from the companies themselves and staff provided through six different employment agencies. At some companies, the Inspectorate suspects underpayment, unauthorised cash payments and probably also unlawful deductions from wages. At some meat processors, time registration was insufficient or altogether absent. The Inspectorate therefore suspects that employees work excessive hours.

Employees hidden

At one meat processor, six employees made an ill-fated attempt to escape the inspection by hiding on the premises. The Inspectorate believes that a number of employees are not permitted to work in the Netherlands or are paid cash-in-hand only. The company has been summoned to hand over the details about these employees to the Inspectorate.

Employment agencies

In the foreseeable future, employment agencies that provided staff to meat processors will be inspected by the Inspectorate SZW to check for underpayment, employment of foreign nationals and specific legislation aimed at employment agencies.

In May this year, the Inspectorate already checked a number of meat processors at the Veluwe. At these companies violations were found as well. In 2020, the Inspectorate will continue to inspect companies in this industry.