Modern slavery flourishing, say inspectors

The four companies discovered by government inspectors last year where workers were treated virtually as slaves were probably the ‘tip of the iceberg’, according to a social affairs ministry spokesman in today’s Volkskrant.

Human smuggling and the exploitation of workers were top priority for the ministry’s SIOD investigators last year, the spokesman said.
The four cases, all of which have either been taken to court or are pending, involve foreign workers. In one, 44 mainly Bulgarian women were cutting up marijuana plants for between €3 and €5 an hour. They were locked into a warehouse at night. In another case, Polish women worked up to 22 hours a day for a mushroom grower. Complaints about their treatment led to pay cuts.
In total, SIOD investigators were involved with 88 complicated fraud cases last year, an increase of 15% on 2005, according to the organisation’s annual report.
Some 216 people and 100 companies were investigated for tax, social security and government subsidy fraud totalling €35m. Just over half the companies investigated were temporary employment agencies and gang master-based operations.

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