Bosses expose Polish migrant workers to coronavirus

This 22 April 2020 video says about itself:

Coronavirus: Singapore’s migrant workers ‘living in fear’ – BBC News

A rising wave of infections among Singapore’s massive migrant worker population threatens to derail the city-state’s success in fighting the coronavirus.

About 80% of all cases in Singapore have been linked to the dormitories where low paid migrant workers from South Asia are housed.

Singapore has now sealed off multiple dormitories, as the government carries out extensive testing and tries to move healthy workers out, but questions are being raised about why more wasn’t done to protect them.

People living in the dorms said they were scared about getting ill, and about what the future holds for them.

We agreed to protect the identity of the workers who spoke to the BBC.

Edited by Christine Hah.

Translated from Gert Janssen of Dutch NOS TV:

Hardly any workplace controls, sick migrants forced to keep working

The inspectorate does not come to the spot to report on an unsafe work situation for labor migrants. Due to the corona crisis, their reports are discussed by telephone with the employers concerned, in the hope that the situation will then improve. This is evident from a memo by the Inspectorate of Social Affairs and Employment that Nieuwsuur TV show has obtained.

Migrant workers tell Nieuwsuur that they are now often forced to continue working when they are sick or have to work too closely together.

Fever and sore throat, still have to work

One of them is 28-year-old Polish Paulina. She worked at an employment agency in the Westland for seven weeks to earn money for her three children in Poland. She made chicken and pork skewers. But when she got a fever and started coughing, she was not reported sick. She no longer received a salary and had to leave her home, unless she started working as a driver to transport migrant workers in vans. She resigned in early April.

Two other Polish workers only want to tell their stories anonymously, for fear of being fired. One of them works in a biscuit factory in the river region. About 150 people work there, sixty percent of whom come from Poland. “A few weeks ago, about 30 people in the factory were sick. They had a fever, had a cough, and had a sore throat. But the team leader and manager just told them to come to work.”

Another Polish woman works at the office of an employment agency in the greenhouse area between Hoek van Holland and The Hague. She experienced that sick migrant workers themselves were forced to write their resignation letter, so that the employer no longer had any costs. “Then they would be out in three hours, with no home, money or idea where to go.”

Polish migrant workers also complain about the workplaces, where it is sometimes impossible to keep a meter and a half apart.

Telephone inspection ‘a joke’

Normally, the Social Affairs and Employment Inspectorate supervises a workplace about safety, including physical checks at the workplace. But a memo that was distributed on April 8 says that because of corona the approach is now different. “In view of the exceptional situation, it has been decided to first contact the employer by telephone with the reports that the Inspectorate wishes to investigate further. This is part of the no, unless approach.”

The Inspectorate will only visit the workplace if there are urgent, serious accidents at work or clear signs of labor exploitation.

FNV trade union federation director John Klijn finds the attitude of the inspectorate incomprehensible. “If they call such an employer, they will, of course, be told nine times out of ten that everything is hunky-dory. But as long as they do not physically enter the businesses to check whether they are corona proof, this actually makes no sense at all. A joke.”

Coronavirus in the Netherlands: here. And here.

32 thoughts on “Bosses expose Polish migrant workers to coronavirus

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  2. 23 april 2020 Nedcar Born wil weer productie zien

    Op 4 en 5 mei krijgen de werkers instructies over hoe ze de productie weer op gaan pakken op 6 mei. Sinds 19 maart ligt de productie daar bij VDL Nedcar volledig stil. Het zal in fases hervat gaan worden, maar of alle 5000 werker hun baan behouden is afwachten. De automarkten zijn wereldwijd volledig ingestort. Volgens de directie wil het personeel heel graag aan het werk en maakt het ze niet echt uit dat er corona heerst in het land. De arbeiders zijn vaak diegene die het eerst en het snelst besmet raken, want de productie moet zoveel mogelijk doorgaan om de winsten niet te laten kelderen.


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