Flexmarkt column, November 2023

'Sticking your neck out'

Frank van Gool made the news this week for being the only entrepreneur to ask a question during the SBS6 election debate. In the column for Flexmarkt, he explains why he did so.

The questions in the media about my presence in the SBS6 election debate are, naturally, uncomfortable. I was given the chance to say something in the block on labour migration, which is my area of expertise. Still, some media found it improper because I am a sponsor of the VVD. This fact was, by the way, mentioned upon my request, as I value transparency. Fortunately, the debate focused on the future of labour migration and political decisions that may affect it. After all, I was invited there because of that topic.

An entrepreneur's responsibility goes beyond the ups and downs of their own company. You also have responsibility towards society, especially when it comes to socially sensitive issues. Labour migration is one of them, as there is still a lot wrong in that area. The readers of my columns must by now be familiar with my mantras about employment agency licensing, enforcement, and certified housing.

But the administrative mills turn sluggishly, and the decision-making is as slow as molasses. That’s why I feel it my responsibility to beat the drum. Migrant workers deserve decent treatment. Being a market leader in the field of labour migration, you not only need to set a good example yourself, although, of course, at a company with 20,000 international employees, things can also go wrong sometimes.

You also have a duty to exert social influence with a plea to improve the situation. I do that at the ABU, at VNO-NCW, in the media, through my contacts at trade unions, with civil servants, at various municipalities and in national politics. Striking a nerve, coming up with solutions, drafting white papers, sitting on committees, writing opinion articles, lobbying, and using the contacts I have for that all-important goal: improving the position of migrant workers in our country. And yes, you can support a political party out of conviction, but political decision-making is not for sale. And that is just as well. What you can do though is come up with a good story and deliver it to politicians in the run-up to the elections. We did just that in past weeks by launching a concrete four-point programme under the slogan 'Grip on Labour Migration', among others via www.heteerlijkeverhaal.nu. And it's great that the media picked up on it and that I got to ask a question about it in an election debate.

I feel it my responsibility, as a major player in the field of labour migration, to stick my neck out. By the way, I’m pretty much the only one in our line of business. I would applaud more entrepreneurs publicly advocating the improvement of the position of migrant workers in our country. I also mean here businesspeople from other branches, as this is in the interest of the entire entrepreneurial Netherlands. Finally, politics seems to be stirring a bit around labour migration. Let’s make sure it goes in the right direction!

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