Monday 16 May 2022

Labour inspectors call for new law to cover exploited workers


Social affairs ministry inspectors have urged the government to change the rules covering the exploitation of seasonal and other workers so it is easier to take cases to court.

At the moment, failing to pay minimum wage rates and working in unsafe conditions is treated as a form of human trafficking, and that makes it harder to prosecute, the inspectors say.

‘Prosecution is not possible in serious cases even though the crime would merit it,’ the inspectors’ report states. The report includes an analysis of 60 cases, most of which never made it to court.

In September, MPs voted in favour of a motion calling for a change in the law, following the publication of a critical report by the national audit office. That report said that despite extra cash and more inspectors, the inspectorate had failed to issue more fines.

The social affairs ministry has indicated a change in the law is an option but that it will be up to the next cabinet to do so.

In September, nine Filipino lorry drivers who were forced to drive for more hours than legally permitted, and paid less than official rates, were told by the public prosecution office they could not take their employer to court for exploiting them because of a lack of evidence.

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