Trafficking in human beings on a construction site in Antwerp: the socialist union calls for more inspections and heavier penalties

The union recalls that the problem of human trafficking and the exploitation of foreign workers here is unfortunately not a new phenomenon, particularly through subcontracting.

“These foreign workers are looking for a better future with us because there are not enough jobs in their country, or the wages are lower there than here,” notes Gianni De Vlaminck, federal secretary of the ABVV.

These workers can come to Belgium, but it is then necessary to respect the directive on the posting of workers, which provides that they will benefit from the legal minimum wage of the host country, he recalls.

To put an end to these abuses, it is necessary to strengthen inspections and to sanction more heavily the abuses of subcontracting, believes the union.

The Flemish press reported on Tuesday that the Antwerp labor prosecutor is conducting an investigation into 55 potential victims of human trafficking active on the large construction site of the chemical company Borealis, near the port of Antwerp.

Employed by a subcontractor, the people concerned – men of Filipino or Bengali origin – would have received a monthly salary of barely 650 euros to work six days a week.

The Flemish construction confederation did not wish to react to this new scandal on Tuesday.

According to its director Marc Dillen, the incriminated workers were employed on industrial installations, and therefore depend on the metal sector, and not on construction.

For his part, the mayor of Antwerp Bart De Wever promised that the city would take “all possible administrative measures” to support the investigation by the labor auditor.

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