MEPs call for immediate action to end modern slavery in Serbia

19. November 2021

Source: N1 Serbia

We are appalled by recent reports of alleged human trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation in Serbia.

An estimated 500 Vietnamese workers live and work on the construction site of the Chinese company Linglong International Europe d.o.o. Zrenjanin. First-hand accounts from the site paint a horrific picture – one of modern slavery at the border of the European Union.

These workers are living in inhumane conditions  – working 26 days a month, 9 hours a day, and with no provision for personal protective equipment at work. Reports show that they are also living in overcrowded barracks with no proper heating or sewage systems, inadequate electricity and insufficient food. Workers have reportedly gone on strike twice so far to protest the lack of food provided and wages not having been paid since May.

It is completely unacceptable that an aspiring EU Member State tolerates the construction and maintenance of a factory that is reportedly staffed using human trafficking and exploitation on its territory. The Serbian government’s silence on this forced labour means that they are complicit in modern slavery. 

We urge the Serbian authorities, Ministry of Labour and Labour Inspectorate, as well as the Ministry of Interior and Office for Coordination of Anti-Trafficking Activities, and Public Prosecutors’ Office, to immediately react to these blatant abuses of workers’ rights and human dignity in the country.

Serbia must demonstrate that it belongs to the European family of nations by promoting the high standards of human and workers’ rights, including through conducting thorough due diligence of Chinese investments in the country and through the enforcement of labour and environmental standards.

Decent work and human rights must be respected and upheld for all.

Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, Greens/EFA

Thomas Waitz, Greens/EFA

Tonino Picula, S&D

Klemen Grošelj, Renew Europe

Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, Greens/EFA

Irena Joveva, Renew Europe

Tineke Strik, Greens/EFA

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