Modern slavery: 55 victims of human trafficking on Antwerp construction site

Modern slavery: 55 victims of human trafficking on Antwerp construction site
Antwerp, Belgium, location, production plant, air view, aerial view, LDPE Plant. Credit: Borealis

Antwerp's Labour Prosecution office is carrying out an investigation into 55 potential victims of human trafficking on the construction site of the chemical company Borealis, close to the port of Antwerp, local media reported on Tuesday.

Borealis is building a factory in Kallo, near Antwerp's port, in a bid to expand operations.

"Victims of human trafficking were employed on the site," labour auditor Bart Wens told De Tijd. His statement confirms initial investigations which suggest that many of the people working on the site were of Filipino or Bengali origin and received a monthly salary of just €650 for working six days a week.

Denies wrongdoing

Borealis claims that the workers involved were not employees of the company itself, but were under the employment of contractor IREM-Ponticelli.

Borealis said that it expects business partners to "conduct themselves in an ethical and compliant manner, as made clear in Borealis' Code of Conduct […], and to fully comply with all legal requirements, including labour laws."

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Events have unfolded just as Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne announced that Belgium would set up a contact point through a new website to better help victims of human trafficking.

On Saturday 30 July, the UN will raise awareness of the issue with its World Day against Trafficking in Persons.

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