Exposed Wallonia nurse staffing agency to be inspected

Exposed Wallonia nurse staffing agency to be inspected
Walloon Health Minister Christie Morreale. Credit: Belga

The Wallonia Region has indeed registered the staffing agency “International Nursing Network” in 2012, Wallonia Health Minister Christie Morreale confirmed on Wednesday during a plenary session of the Parliament.

The Parliament asked for an inspection after their practices were denounced last week in RTBF’s programme “#Investigation”.

On 25 May, the RTBF episode “​​Pénurie d'infirmières, des vies en danger” (Shortage of nurses, lives at risk) was released, which shines a light on the shortage of staff in hospitals. Belgium is in need of 20,000 nurses, resulting in safety standards not being respected and a lack of treatment of patients.

“As a result, hospitals are prepared to do anything to recruit nurses. From proposing them attractive bonuses, creating an unhealthy competition to sometimes even recruit nurses from rather dubious agencies,” journalists on the programme stated.

The staffing agency being discussed is “The International Network Agency”. “This agency charges nurses from Lebanon exorbitant fees to obtain a diploma equivalence and then the work permit,” claims Germain Mugemangango, the group leader of PTB in the regional assembly in a statement.

“We're talking about €7,500 more or less. It puts discriminatory clauses in its contracts, such as the obligation not to become pregnant on pain of a €15,000 fine.”

Active for 10 years

"So, we have a company that has been active and licensed for 10 years that uses these illegal practices and has never been worried by anyone in the Walloon Region... This is very disturbing because it means total impunity for acts that could be described as modern slavery," Mugemangango continues.

"This agency was registered in 2012, as were around 1,100 companies in Wallonia. It has not been the subject of any complaint since then. But given the situation, I have asked the administration to carry out an inspection and to check whether the registration practice should be better supervised," said Minister Christie Morreale, reacting to a question from Mugemangango.

"The practices that were denounced in the RTBF programme are not admissible and we will fight them with pugnacity,” Morreale finally assured.

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