Less than half of the active workers on Belgian construction sites benefit from the salaried construction worker status, De Standaard reported Monday. Independent and assigned workers have indeed taken over.
Late 2017, the construction sector accounted for 320,000 jobs, 30,000 more than in 2012. However, behind this expansion lie two opposite tendencies. The number of assigned workers (foreigners) has more than doubled over this period, reaching almost 76,000. Self-employed (as a main occupation) are also significantly more, being close to 47,000.
At the same time, salaried workers went from 172,000 to just under 150,000. Their share in the sector is now no more than 46.6%.
“Construction companies employing Belgian staff face high labour costs, strict labour legislation, long notice periods, and a severe shortage of candidates to fill their positions,” said Jean-Pierre Waeytens, of the SMEs’ Flemish Federation Bouwunie. He notes “a lot of unfair competition.” “For years, we have been invaded by cheap foreign workers (with the detached status), and also, recently, by people having a complementary activity (fiscally stimulated by the tax-exempted 500 euros, ed).”
For all these reasons, construction companies want to make greater use of independents, Bouwunie is being told, which requires an adjustment of the Law on Labour Relations.