In Europe, thousands of exploited workers are forced to work endless hours with no or little pay and without adequate safety equipment. Many of those exploited workers are migrants. Their situation has become even worse during the Coronavirus pandemic, as their working conditions do not allow physical distancing or regular handwashing.
The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) calls on EU institutions and EU Member States to take all the necessary steps to stop the exploitation of migrant workers, ensure safe working conditions and fair pay.
“The Coronavirus pandemic has yet again shed light on the unacceptable conditions many exploited workers work in across Europe,” said FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty.
“The reports from agricultural farms and slaughterhouses, where many of the workers are migrants, are truly horrifying. We clearly have to do more to stop labour exploitation, provide safe working conditions and ensure adequate pay. Member States need to step up their efforts to ensure the rights of exploited workers are respected. They cannot be the scapegoats of the Coronavirus pandemic.”
While the rights of all workers have to be respected, migrant or not, FRA has specifically looked into the exploitation of migrant workers. The 2019 report ‘Protecting migrant workers from exploitation in the EU: workers’ perspectives’ shows illegal practices in many sectors including agriculture, construction, domestic work, hospitality, manufacturing and transport.
In its statement, the Agency said that Migrant workers in these sectors are often forced to work for endless hours with no or little pay, often in dangerous settings and without minimum safety equipment; sleep in fields or construction sites, without access to toilets or running water; and suffer humiliating sexual harassment.