IKEA contractor loses Dutch court case

A court of appeal case between FNV, the Dutch trade union, and Brinkman Trans Holland, a Dutch trucking company based in Emmen, has again ruled that the Dutch salaries in the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) also apply to subcontracted workers from Poland and Moldova.

IKEA contracts Brinkman to transport some of its goods, who in turn subcontract much of these transport operations to sister-companies based in Eastern Europe. These companies in the East employ drivers on Eastern European contracts, despite them working continuously in Western Europe. This avoids local workers’ rights, tax and social security contributions. Violations of the Dutch CBA result in a penalty of €100,000.

Company continues to violate court ruling

FNV’s research has shown that Brinkman’s subcontracting model continues to be in violation of court rulings concerning international road transport. The courts supported FNV’s claim that the Dutch CBA applies to subcontracted operations, and rejected Brinkman’s claims that the companies in Poland and Moldova are independent companies. Last year Dutch road transport inspections concluded that the Dutch company, not the Eastern European sister-companies, is the legitimate employer of the non-resident drivers. Several penalties claims remain outstanding regarding the company’s violation of regulations concerning driving and resting time, cabotage, and bogus self-employment.

IKEA needs to turn their nice words into action

Edwin Atema from FNV – Stichting VNB: “We have more court cases like this against bandit employers. Years ago, we raised our concerns about Brinkman’s international road transport with IKEA as an example of the broader issues in their supply chain. At first, they denied that there is exploitation in their supply chain. Then they accepted that there is exploitation. IKEA made several nice statements about potential solutions. Now the time has come for IKEA to act. They must properly pay drivers at Brinkman, respect their human rights, and end exploitation in their supply chain.”

Trade union whistleblowers

The courts have also heard the case of three FNV shop stewards that exposed Brinkman’s exploitation of drivers from the East. In 2017, the police required a bailiff to retrieve the penalty payments resulting from the first court ruling on the issue. All subsequent rulings on the issue have been in the drivers’ favour.

Leading the race to the bottom

Companies like Brinkman are driving down pay and standards and leading the race to the bottom. IKEA and other multinationals complain about driver shortages. They need look no further than the exploitation in their supply chains for a reason for this growing crisis in the road haulage industry.

For further questions:

Edwin Atema FNV – Stichting VNB: 00 31 - 6516 103 50

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