At Rights at Work Conference, the audience laughed twice: on Polish Work Inspector Q&A session when related to Ukrainian citizens which prefer to open businesses on Poland territory and Romanian Government Presentation about an information campaign for employees and employers.
First, let’s see what this event was:
La Strada International with funds from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in partnership with FairWork and SOMO successfully gathered stakeholders from NGOs, Embassies, Work Inspectorate, Academics active in Netherland, Poland, Bulgaria, and Romania and with research over the world. A similar focus has been used for comparing Belgium, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
The event was hosted on De Burcht, Amsterdam on 28th September 2018. Here in the historical building of the General Dutch Diamonds workers Union, the participants debated themes regarding migrants work rights, equality principles of payment, examples about exploitation cases still without a final decision in justice trial, the new phenomenon of South Asia and Sub-Saharan workers arrived in Romania or Ukrainian citizens situation in Poland. Maybe on future events, participants will remark about the situation of Macedonian and Albanian workers exploited in Greece under the possibility to visit European Union territory for three months. Or the strategy used by Romanian employers to refuse local workers because the Filipinos are more cheaply and easy to be trafficked and exploited by wealthy Romanian families or in the tourism industry under the threat of expulsion.
The Rights at Work Conference had a presentation, three panels, and conclusions. It started with Ms. Suzanne Hoff, International Coordinator, La Strada International.
The first-panel debate about labor exploitation, human trafficking & forced labor – law and practice with facilitator Conny Rijken, Tilburg Law School, INTERVICT and speakers Amy Weatherburn – Ph.D. Candidate at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Tilburg University, Imke van Gardingen, Policy Advisor Labour Migration Dutch Trade Union FNV, Annet Koopsen, Dutch victims Lawyer, Antoaneta Vassileva, Project Coordinator Animus Association Bulgaria.
An interesting point of view at question session: it should be better to apply an administrative penalty that affects immediately or a criminal approach but with the final result in years of lengthy trials and justice procedures.
The second panel had a focus on complaint mechanisms, labor inspections, prosecution and liability of employers and the private sector with facilitator Katrin McGauran, Researcher SOMO and speakers Lilana Keith, Advocacy Officer PICUM on Labour Rights and Labour Migration, Robert Jaworski, Chief Specialist at the Legality of Employment Department at the Chief Labour Inspectorate Poland, Esther de Haan, Programme Manager / Senior Researcher SOMO, Fabiola Mieres, Honorary Fellow at the Department of Geography, Durham University.
Interesting to retain is also that workers refuse to testify when they are coming outside the European Union mostly been afraid by deportation.
The third panel admits cooperation of stakeholders to address cases of labor exploitation and support victims with facilitator Eline Willemsen, Project Manager Labour Exploitation, FairWork and speakers Sorin Dandea, Trade Union Cartel ALFA Romania, Elena Timofticiuc, National Coordinator AIDRom Romania, Edwin Atema, Dutch Trade Union FNV.
After this, the discussion reaches the fact that Romanians worker confront exploitation in other European countries, but in Romania, affluent families are using the workers from Philippine, Vietnam, Bangladesh or China mostly in housing work, constructions and textile manufacturing area. Mr. Dandea presented a case of a Romanian lorry driver imprisoned in Spain because he has sold the goods in exchange to recover the wage from the employer who was bankrupt. Ms. Timofticiuc mentioned that in Romania, even an ex-Prime Minister hired a Philippine origin woman, and the work agency succeeds to change the name and location five times without penalties or condemnation.
In this grey area is not easy to determine when is a bad employer, breaking of work legislation, human trafficking, immigration policy, human rights dignity, or pure economic global evolution.