On Friday, May 21, the Labour working group of the Vrije Bond in collaboration with Shut Down VION! will hold a flyer action in front of the gate of Vion's largest pig slaughterhouse in Boxtel. This flyer action is part of a long-running campaign of the working group Labour with the aim of informing migrant workers about their legal position and to combat the exploitation of migrant workers.
In the Netherlands, some 400,000 migrant workers work through temporary employment agencies and the conditions many of these workers face remain unacceptable; researchers, journalists, activists and trade unions increasingly use the term modern slavery. The main arguments, for handing out flyers to migrant workers at the slaughterhouse gate, are: the current pandemic, the exploitative conditions of workers and the abolition of the meat industry.
Around the world, slaughterhouses are proving to be corona hotspots. The slaughterhouse in Boxtel already dealt with two outbreaks.
Through all sorts of nonsensical arguments, an image has been created that migrant workers would be 'invisible' and therefore vaccination would not be possible. Tens of thousands of migrant workers are difficult to reach for vaccination, supposedly because of the lack of addresses, the responsible temporary employment agencies say. The problem is not that labor migrants are difficult to reach: they are not always registered with the municipalities where they reside. They are however registered with the employment agencies. The COVID-19 danger to labor migrants is significantly increased precisely because of the persistently poor (much too small) housing of labor migrants.
It happens far too often that property owners (and employers in close consultation with employment agencies) impose unsafe and poor housing on labour migrants. There is no choice, partly because migrant workers are dependent on the employment agencies. The compulsory linking of work and income to housing could be called modern day slavery. Migrant workers from Poland, Hungary and Romania, among others, pay a fortune to live in run down buildings. If the workers complain, they lose their jobs and their homes.
Working conditions and payments
Migrant workers are put under great pressure during their work (through targets), receive absolute minimum wages, do not know exactly how many hours they can work where, and often change employers. The locations where the migrant workers are accommodated by these organisations do not meet the requirements.
Shut Down VION! is an initiative that envisions not only the closure of this slaughterhouse but the abolition of the entire livestock industry. The benefits of abolishing the meat industry are clear to everyone. Also because of this, we need to inform migrant workers of their rights. The workers have the right to a decent income, residence and health conditions equal to all other people in this society. The past years have shown that employers, the employment agency industry and the government will not provide fair conditions and if it is up to them we will always have to deal with second class citizens. So, close VION and provide decent and healthy jobs for all migrant workers. We do not accept second class citizens and destruction of the environment, hence this flyer action.