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More than 250 construction workers call on EC to act against exploitation in subcontracting chains


On Wednesday 7 June, the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW), in close cooperation with its Belgian affiliates, ACV BIE and AC ABVV, is organising a European demonstration in Brussels. The demonstration will gather more than 250 construction workers from across Europe.


We would like to invite you to our demonstration, which will take place at Place du Luxembourg, Brussels, from 10:00 to 12:00. The European demonstration will close our week of action in the context of our subcontracting campaign launched earlier this year.

The EFBWW and its affiliates demand that the European Commission (EC) takes firm action to promote direct jobs, to limit subcontracting, and to end exploitation in subcontracting chains in the construction sector.  

A recent study, carried out by the European Commission shows that subcontracting is a major risk factor for the exploitation of workers. The longer and more complex the chain is, the higher the probability of labour crime and abuse. Often, companies use subcontracting chains to disguise employment relationships, circumvent tax and social security payments, avoid joint and several liability, and hide from controls by labour inspection bodies. These subcontractors repeatedly vanish without paying the workers their wage due after months of working. It is time to put an end to this.

EFBWW General Secretary Tom Deleu: “This year we celebrate 30 years of Internal Market, but from the point of view of construction workers there is not much to celebrate. The last three decades have meant less social protection, more precarious jobs, increasingly unsafe and unhealthy working conditions and inhumane competition between workers based on nationality and employment status. It is time to limit subcontracting, ban all agencies in the context of posting and to promote direct jobs with good working conditions. And we need mandatory social criteria in public procurement. No public money should ever go to the exploitation of workers”.

ACV BIE President, Patrick Vandenberghe: “Posting of workers, social dumping, and subcontracting chains are one of the biggest challenges in the Belgian and European construction labour market. To tackle these problems, we need strong, unconditional chain responsibility for the main contractor and intermediary contractors. We need to limit subcontracting, limit the number of tiers in the chain of subcontracting, but also limit the tasks, and the percentage of the turnover generated by the subcontracting chain.”

AC-ABVV Federal Secretary, Brahim Hilami: “We have seen in recent years that cascading subcontracting is really the loophole for profiting from the system in construction. Workers are exploited, as we saw in the example of Borealis. Workers were exposed to human trafficking and were exploited with miserable wages, only €3 per hour. This has to stop! In Belgium and everywhere in Europe."

For more information about the campaign and our demands, visit