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Migrants suffer labor exploitation in the EU

The plight of migrants start right from their homeland where they are persecuted and forced to flee in order to save the lives of their children, family members and selves from an ongoing climate of violence and brutality. These are civilians who have whatsoever no interest or greed for political power plays but become downtrodden due to the rage of terrorists, mafia structures or deep state members. This is what we encounter in many parts of our world, which has turned into a quagmire of hate, conflict and bloodshed.

Having left all that they have in their hands, their homes, possessions, jobs, finances and all their belongings back, migrants start on a journey to nowhere as refugees. In addition to the torment, ruthless practices and inhumane treatment on their road for a new life, they are not welcome at the destinations they travel either. Their conundrum persists at ongoing stages under their title as migrants.

Under this classification, it is a pity that they become new targets for oppression. People trafficking networks prey on these people, and human smugglers, their low-level agents and boatmen abuse migrants, take them as captives and demand ransoms of about thousands of dollars from their families for release. And there is another affliction that causes severe suffering for the migrants which is their exploitation as labor. This reminds us of a new way of slavery.

The recent report of FRA (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights) titled “Severe labor exploitation: workers moving within or into the European Union,” gives details as to all forms of the unfair treatment that is stipulated to be criminal offense under EU laws. These may be listed as slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labor. Having studied the employment abuses widespread across the 28-member European Union FRA spokesperson said, “Labor exploitation is a reality in the EU.”[1]

Mainly in industries of construction, agriculture, forestry and fishing, hotel and catering, domestic work and manufacturing, these migrants used as labor are paid less per hour, work more hours a day or week, housed in harsh conditions and not allowed to go on holiday or take sick leave. What is more, their passports are taken off of them and they lose communication with the outside world, not being able to speak their local language.

The UK government’s anti-slavery commissioner reported extremely shocking instances of exploitation naming that to be “modern-day slavery.”[2] The Labor leader Ed Miliband also cited one case in which “29 immigrants claimed to have had their wages stolen and to be living with up to 12 people crammed into a two-bedroom house with bedbug-ridden mattresses. They also claimed to have been beaten, set upon by dogs and held in the back of a van for up to six days at a time.”[3] The construction industry in Germany also utilizes migrant workers who are again faced with maltreatment like not having been paid for months, never given a contract, made to sleep on construction sites and unable to pay for their lodgings.[4] And in a case study about Polish industry, it was made evident that Vietnamese refugees were exploited in a sewing factory where they had their passports and phones taken away by the employer, were kept in isolation and had to work around 70 hours a week.[5] According to Amnesty International’s report particularly foreign migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and Asia are mostly exploited in the agricultural sector and receive arbitrary wage deductions, delays or non-payment and long working hours. Besides, gang masters and sometimes mafia type criminal organizations abuse the workers illegally in exploitative working conditions.[6]

These instances give an account of the perpetuation of the ill treatment on migrants who for this or that reason seek security, better living conditions and provisions to take care of their families. That is why despite all the abuse and discrimination, they persevere to harsh working conditions, the bullying and harm they are subjected to.

This is another evidence how the world is plagued with a very severe disease, which is “lovelessness.” The lack of love and compassion and numbness before all the persecution, bloodshed and tyranny going on in our world shows how people’s hearts have hardened. The major life giving power, love is missing from the hearts of individuals and that is leading to all kinds of ruthlessness and barbarity that we encounter in our day. And without this true element of humanity, which is love and compassion, our world will sicken more drawing further troubles upon itself.

In regard to this issue of labor exploitation of the migrants, the dictionary is adequate to describe the mistreatment; “benefit unfairly from the work of (someone), typically by overworking or underpaying them.” However, the EU has the proper legislation and measures to prevent such unfairness or discrimination in working conditions. In Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, Article 31 reads, “Fair and just working conditions: 1. Every worker has the right to working conditions, which respect his or her health, safety and dignity. 2. Every worker has the right to limitation of maximum working hours, to daily and weekly rest periods and to an annual period of paid leave.” And Article 5 reads, “Prohibition of slavery and forced labor: 1. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude. 2. No one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labor. 3. Trafficking in human beings is prohibited.”

Apparently, European democracies, generally considered as exemplary in terms of respecting human rights, need to make a further move in this field. Definitely the media, professionals, politicians and opinion makers should also take all measures to implement the proper law and make no compromises when it comes to justice.

Yet, they should also emphasize this terrible disease in their societies and people should be made aware that on the basis of all social issues, the real problem is the lack of love. Without finding the right treatment by showing friendship, understanding and justice to entire humanity regardless of race, ethnicity, color, language, nationality, gender, status; similar exploitations will persist in other areas also. And that will only make the disease worse, and collapse societies into more tyranny, selfishness and barbarity just as we see in the exploitation of migrants.

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