Aviagen is a large international breeding company in the broiler sector. The company has its own pure breeding animals and specializes in grandparent and parent stock. It serves its customers – which are based in more than 100 countries – from several locations, including the site on Elmpterweg in Roermond. Koen van Lith (Hatchery Manager) and Lion Hekers (Production Manager) are very positive about their international colleagues who work at Aviagen via AB Werkt.
‘People think we have barns full of chickens here, but we don’t,’ explains Koen. ‘We incubate the eggs of parent chicks in incubators and then sell them to rearers and broiler farms all over Europe. About 27 people work in our Production department.’
Lion, who also originally joined Aviagen via AB Werkt, is happy with the partnership. ‘We’ve been working with AB Werkt for many years now. They have a strong presence in the agricultural sector. One of the advantages is that AB Werkt also takes care of the accommodation for people who come from abroad to work in the Netherlands. That’s one less thing for newcomers to have to worry about while they’re still finding their feet here. And it’s one less thing for us to have to think about, too!’
Most international employees at Aviagen have a full-time position. Koen: ‘We don’t have peaks and dips in our line of work. Everything is planned in advance. We are almost always busy and need a steady number of people to be able to keep our production running every week.’ Lion: ‘I only really get in touch with AB Werkt to arrange temporary extra staff if we have people off sick or on leave. We can usually spot staffing challenges before they arise, and AB Werkt can usually help us with that. Many people who join us as flexible workers, for example during a holiday period, often stay on.’
A few years ago, it was mainly Polish workers who found their way to Aviagen via AB Werkt, but today the workforce is far more diverse in terms of nationalities. Koen: ‘At the moment, we have workers from Poland, Romania, Spain, Latvia, and Moldova. So, it’s understandable that you have to put in extra effort when it comes to communication on the work floor.’ Lion adds: ‘Good communication is one of the keys to success when working with international colleagues. In our work, you have to be able to communicate directly with someone. That’s why we think it’s important that people are willing to learn a little German or English. Although, the younger workers who join us often already speak those languages.’
Koen: ‘Regardless of how you start working for us as an international employee, via AB Werkt or some other route, everyone is equal. That’s also our corporate culture; we keep things accessible and informal. We also work hard to make sure that international employees feel at home here and part of the team. That’s really important, otherwise they leave after a while. And that’s a waste, because we invest a lot of time and effort in training people internally.’
Lion concludes: ‘Let’s face it, we wouldn’t be able to keep running without workers from other countries. I don’t see more Dutch people taking on this kind of work in the years to come. There are labour shortages everywhere, especially in the agricultural sector. We’re happy with AB Werkt and the international staff they put forward. Our partnership just works really well.’
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