Social dumping and exploitation are widespread practices in the EU, where foreign workers are exploited as “cheap labour” in order to increase profit margins of companies. Every year millions of migrant workers are employed in the construction, the meat industry, the transport sector and many other branches with no social protection, deplorable wages and inhuman living conditions. These workers are the “slaves” of the 21st century. Every year millions of migrant workers are attracted to work abroad, with false promises made by “gang masters”. In reality they end up in a foreign country where they are treated as commodities, where they have to work as much as possible for pocket money. Due to their marginalisation in the foreign country and the risk to be sanctioned by their employers these workers have often no recourse to address their plight.

Social dumping and exploitation are practices which does not happen sporadically, they are deliberately promoted by European and national politicians as a normal free market business model. Very often a blind eye is turned to the inhuman treatment of these workers. Often the sending countries are quite happy to get rid of their unemployed workers by sending them abroad. Therefore false self-employment, fraudulent posting, illicit agency work and similar practices have become common in many workplaces.

Social dumping and exploitation have devastating consequences for every one of us. Firstly for the migrant workers, who are just looking for a job, but instead are confronted with their ruthless exploitation. Law-abiding companies are getting frustrated by the enormous competitive advantage of their competitors. The national social protection schemes are seriously undermined and circumvented. So the practice of cross-border social dumping is threatening the European project of free movement.

European Federation of Building and Woodworkers

Rue de l’hôpital 31
boîte 1 (12e étage)
1000 Bruxelles

0032 (0)2 227 10 40

0032 (0)2 219 82 28

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