PostNL falls foul of Belgian employment authorities

Dutch postal operator PostNL has had two raids on its Belgium hubs as part of an ongoing investigation into labour practices. These remain closed while the investigation takes place.

The Belgian minister for public enterprises Petra De Sutter said that the raids have shown that some ‘infringements may have been committed’.

“I cannot and do not wish to comment on the case itself, it is up to the courts to do their job,” De Sutter’s statement said, adding that all postal operators in Belgium should offer their workers permanent contracts.

In its 2021 annual report, PostNL revealed that the Belgian labour inspectorate had found it in breach of employment regulations that included treating delivery workers as freelancers and that the authorities are set to press charges. In the latest raids a number of staff have been arrested.

In a rebuttal to the accusations, PostNL Director of Parcels & Logistics Benelux, Liesbeth Kaashoek said, “prosecutor for the employment courts Gianni Reale has used the media to accuse us of “people trafficking”, being a “criminal organisation” and “forgery””.

She continued, “We emphatically deny such major allegations, and would point out that the picture being painted does not resemble our daily work practices. As far as we’re concerned, there are no grounds whatsoever to besmirch PostNL’s good name in this fashion, and we consider this action out of all proportion and unacceptable. We stand firmly behind our people and delivery partners and are doing everything within our power to secure the swift release of our colleagues.”

Kaashoek also said, “We will defend our position forcefully and we look forward with confidence to any legal procedures that might ensue. At the same time, we will continue to cooperate fully – as we have done to date – with all investigations made and questions asked by the authorities.”

It remains to be seen what the outcome of the Belgian investigation will reveal, and what practices PosNL has been undertaking that fall foul of Belgian employment law.

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