The Netherlands’ high demand for manpower has created innovative ways to meet the need. OTTO is part job agency, part controlled immigration office. It has established itself notably in bringing in Polish workers for contracts lasting between six months and five years. Part of the success hinges on the migrants’ desire to return to their own country. The matter is a sensitive one, the Netherlands having grown increasingly tense in recent years about past immigration policy. OTTO director Peter Verlegh describes the average Polish case: “They don’t integrate much in Dutch society. They come here to work and they live peacefully where they’re staying and then after a few months generally they go back to Poland.”
The average income is 900 euros per month net. Out of that they pay 48 euros each for shared space in a six-person tourist residence near the town of Venray. It is 80 kilometres from Maastricht in the south of the Netherlands. The same work in Poland would pay some 200 euros.
The reality is that the Dutch unemployment rate is below seven percent while in Poland it hovers around 18 percent. With its fleet of vehicles OTTO covers transport from the home country as well. But for Johanna Kubik, now working in OTTO headquarters, the loneliness of separation is constant. “It’s not so nice because all my family and friends are living in Poland, so it will be better for me when I go back. I was working in a cheese company, working with flowers, cleaning hotels. Now I’m working here.”
Labour mobility restrictions in the European Union for citizens of the new member states seeking to work in the pre-enlargement 15 are still in place in the Netherlands, but they will come up for review next year.