Romanian, Hungarian and Slovak Workers Recruited for a New Season in Czech Forests
A large number of migrant forest workers have been misled and taken advantage of since 2009, in what many media outlets as well as the Organization for Security and Co-operation Europe (OSCE) have referred to as a case of vast exploitation in Central and Eastern Europe.
“Those who have been personally affected or know anyone who has, or if someone has any information about suspicious offers in the forestry sector in the Czech Republic, they can contact us at email@example.com. They can also call toll-free from the Czech Republic on Wednesdays from 12:00 until 20:00 at 8 000 77777,” said Marek Čaněk from the Prague-based Initiative for the Rights of Migrant Workers.
Two firms in particular are suspected of mistreating their employees; Affumicata a.s. and Wood Servis Praha s.r.o., which were part of the chain of subcontractors mainly for the Czech Less & Forest s.r.o. Over the course of the 2009 and 2010 working seasons the firms recruited workers from Vietnam, Romania and Slovakia to clean and plant trees in Czech forests, promising salaries that started at 10 000 CZK (around 400 Euros) with arranged housing. In 2010 the chain of companies was complicated further: while the workers had contracts with Wood Servis Praha s.r.o., it was an interrelated company Madera Servicio s.r.o. that received contracts from Less & Forest s.r.o.
However, hundreds of the migrant workers were forced to sign contracts in Czech, and received either a small fraction of their salaries or nothing at all. In addition, many of the workers reported terrible working and living conditions including: little to no food, long working days, cramped living spaces, and intimidation and threats from the management.
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(Media monitoring of the case)
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The press release in Romanian and Hungarian language available here.