Tuesday 09 August 2022

Prosecutor drops lorry driver exploitation case, citing lack of evidence

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Nine Filipino lorry drivers who were forced to drive for more hours than legally permitted, and paid less than official rates, cannot take their employer to court for exploiting them because of a lack of evidence, the public prosecution department has decided.

After a three-year investigation, the department has decided to drop the case, stating that although the men’s situation was ‘extremely undesirable’, there is not enough evidence to take the case to court, current affairs show Nieuwsuur reported on Monday evening.

The department admitted that the drivers were paid less than the industry-agreed rate but said they did earn more than the minimum wage.

They also drove more hours than legally allowed but that this was not ‘disproportionate’ when compared to other international drivers, Nieuwsuur quoted the department as saying. Nor was the fact that they had to sleep in their cab on days off enough to prove they were being exploited.

Edwin Atema, from trade union FNV, told Nieuwsuur that the prosecution department decision was incomprehensible.

Meanwhile the government’s human trafficking monitoring agency told Nieuwsuur that it had received 449 reports of labour exploitation last year, up 70% on 2019.

‘Much exploitation is invisible,’ agency chief Herman Bolhaar said. ‘The victims often don’t see why they should come forward because, for example, they are worried about losing their jobs. The problem is far greater than the figures show.’

In July, judges ruled that a Dutch transport company should give 10 Hungarian lorry drivers back pay which could run into hundreds of thousands of euros for failing to pay them a salary in line with Dutch requirements.

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