Flanders and Bulgaria step up cooperation against social exploitation

Flanders and Bulgaria will cooperate more closely in the fight against social exploitation. Flemish Work minister Jo Brouns agreed this with Bulgarian ambassador Plamen Bochem and Bulgarian consul Malin Messalski on Monday.

Flanders is struggling to combat gangmaster firms, companies that offer workers from abroad a job in Flanders and employ them on incredibly low wages. The companies employing these workers are often not aware of this exploitation. They pay Belgium's minimum wages and the gangmaster firms collect the difference.

Flanders and Bulgaria are already working together to tackle this issue but have now agreed to strengthen their cooperation. The Bulgarian embassy will distribute information on the rights and obligations of workers in Flanders to raise awareness among potential migrant workers.

"Anyone who works in Flanders must be protected in Flanders"

Agreements were also reached on cooperation between the Flemish Social Inspectorate and Bulgaria's consular services. This allows the inspectorate to quickly raise the alarm if there are signs that fake Bulgarian identity cards are in circulation in Flanders.

A contact person will be appointed in Sofia for the Flemish administration to exchange data, and Brouns has asked for a Bulgarian labour attaché to be appointed for Belgium, who should act as a contact for labour market questions for Bulgarians in Flanders.

Brouns wants a "zero tolerance policy" on the illegal employment of foreigners. "Anyone who works in Flanders must be protected in Flanders," he says.


#FlandersNewsService | Flemish Work minister Jo Brouns © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

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