Real hospitality and decent living conditions for international workers. How this Dutch recruitment agency does things differently. (1)

Date published 26 June 2024
Date modified 26 June 2024

With what kind of mission did you start LabourLink? 

“Back in the 90s I noticed that international workers would not receive any kind of assistance from the companies they worked for. Someone in Schotland just got a message saying: report tomorrow at this address in IJsselstein, The Netherlands. Have fun and good luck. 

I saw a lot of guys arrive over time and they all had the same problem. Most of them had no idea how to get around in their new country and they didn’t have accommodation. There must be a better way to help these guys, that’s what I thought. That’s how LabourLink started.”


So what is it that LabourLink does nowadays for internationals? 

“The philosophy of this agency is that we take care of the people that work for us. I always try to imagine if I would have to move to Spain for a new job. I wouldn’t know how to get around, how to get health insurance and how public transport works. We make sure that we guide internationals in their first week and to help them settle in. Housing is arranged, we arrange a pick-up service from the airport and we introduce them to their new employer.” 

How do other companies or agencies operate? 

“There are quite some cases where international workers were living in small containers together or put into small apartments. They’d sleep in bunk beds and sometimes with four people in a room,  having to share facilities with even more. You can’t treat people who work for you like that.” 

Why is this such a sensitive topic in The Netherlands? 

“Because of the way agencies have treated international workers badly in the past. The media has been covering this topic for years and it’s always negative. Some politicians are not in favor of bringing international workers here either. It’s not that they blame the workers themselves, but rather the situation itself.” 

There must be parties that are more positive towards international workers. 

“Definitely, there are plenty. Companies and employers are interested in getting more internationals to work for them. The same goes for rent lords and property managers, more and more of them are starting to work with us. And we also talk to municipalities and local councils about housing internationals. Fortunately more people from different backgrounds are starting to embrace our mission.” 

Isn’t the fact that LabourLink houses internationals also an extra way to earn money?

“On the contrary! We actually spend money every month to make sure internationals live in decent accommodations. We only charge a certain percentage of the rent to the workers, the rest comes out of our own pocket. And we are happy to do so. Housing is not something we make money with, we simply want to offer international workers a decent place to live. A private room with a television, and facilities you only have to share with about three other people. They only have to bring three things: their clothes, toothbrush and Playstation!”