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    High reduction in number of foreign construction workers

    The number of foreign workers active within the Belgian construction industry decreased significantly last year by nearly 7,000 individuals – or 7%.
    In contrast, Belgian workers in this sector were more numerous than the previous year with an increase of 2,200 individuals.

    The publications Gazet van Antwerpen and Het Belang van Limburg are stating this today (Wednesday).

    In 2016, 268,300 Belgians, whether or not they were self-employed, were working within the construction industry, as were 97,990 foreigners. This applied whether for a few days or months of employment. The number of foreigners fell by 6,944 last year, compared to the previous year.

    Philippe De Backer, Secretary of State for the Fight against Social Fraud (Open Vld) says, “This arose, in particular, from the better economic circumstances, the ‘taxshift’ and our efforts around social dumping.”

    He goes on, “Stricter controls on building sites have ensured that the proportion of the foreign workforce has decreased. Some foreign labour firms do not even feature now within the Belgian market.”

    There remains one challenging issue: the number of fraud cases and social dumping seen on large public building sites. During 2016, offences occurred on some 487 building sites. Of the 840 employees working on such sites, 70% were committing offences. Amongst the self-employed, the percentage increased to 78%.

    The Secretary of State indicated, “The figures have increased, but that is a natural consequence of targeted checks on the various building sites.”

    He concluded, “I am only partially surprised that offences are still being committed to this extent. Numerous authorities are indicating their suspicions of social dumping. I am aware that there is a particular problem within the construction industry in this regard.”

    Christopher Vincent
    The Brussels Times