Bulgarian Company Declared Guilty of Labor Exploitation in Belgium
Bulgarian company Top Stroi has been sentenced by a Belgian court to a fine of EUR 117 600 and a confiscation of EUR 350 301 over exploitation of workers.
The sentence of the court of first instance was issued on the basis of conclusions of the prosecuting authority that the workers of the company, 196 Bulgarian nationals, were subjected were subjected to exploitation and slave labor, according to local media outlets, as cited by the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency (BTA).
The company built the most modern prison in Belgium, which is to be opened in a few days. The same company is also involved in the construction of the new headquarters of NATO in Brussels.
The prosecution insisted that the Bulgarian construction workers had been working much longer than the norm of 8 hours a day and had received negligible payment in return.
It turned out that the daily payment of the workers had been adjusted to incomes in Bulgaria, EUR 6 per hour, below the legal minimum of EUR 15 per hour in Belgium.
Payments to workers stopped after an inspection of the Belgian labor inspectorate in July.
It was revealed that the construction workers had worked on Saturdays and on holidays, and 70 of them, who had been working on the NATO site, had been living in one house, with 9 people staying in one room.
In September 2013, 14 of the workers traveled from Bulgaria to Belgium to testify in court and to be included in the proceedings as civil claimants.
The report does not specify what part of the fine or the confiscated sum will go to compensations for the workers or whether the company intends to appeal the ruling.
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