The Belgian construction industry fears that building jobs will be lost here as a result of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. The Building Confederation’s Mark Dillen told the VRT’s economic affairs programme ‘De vrije markt’ that “the possibility is quite large that some of the Eastern European currently in the UK will come to Belgium”.
Due to the rules obliging free movement of labour, goods and services within the EU, a large number of foreign (read Eastern European) companies could come here.
The companies’ workers are employed under the pay and conditions applicable in their countries of origin, but are sent to jobs in other countries where the rules on pay and conditions are better. Although they are supposed to be paid the same as a builder employed in the country in which they are working there are little or no checks to ensure that this happens.
Furthermore, their social security contributions are paid in their country of origin. All this enable the Eastern European companies to undercut companies from countries such as Belgium, France and the UK.
Currently around 800,000 Poles, Romanians and Bulgarians are working in the UK. The Building Confederation If the Brexit results in them no longer being welcome in the UK, the possibility that they will come to Belgium is quite large. Belgium already has the highest percentage of detached workers in the EU. The Building Confederation says that this is due to us being more flexible than our neighbours.
There is real fear in the construction industry that that jobs will be lost as an indirect result of the Brexit.