Probe into conditions of foreign workers at Borealis plant

Flemish economy minister Brouns (Christian democrat) is to get his department to check whether all 314 foreign workers employed at the Borealis plastics plant in Kallo (East Flanders) under labour permits issued by the authorities are being legally employed.  Mr Brouns is responding to reports that a subcontractor employed 55 victims of human trafficking in appalling conditions.

These workers reportedly received a wage of 650 euros a month for working a 6- or 7-day week. Labour prosecutors are already investigating that case.

The economy minister says that no labour permit was ever applied for these 55 Bangladeshi and Filipino workers. Mr Brouns now wants the working conditions of all 314 foreign workers for whom a permit was issued examined. 

Meanwhile chemicals giant Borealis has suspended its contract with subcontractor IREM-Ponticelli and has shut down the works for 3 days.

Subcontractor IREM-Ponticelli denies all allegations of people-trafficking and has pledged to co-operate in the judicial investigation. It says its foreign employees all receive wages above Belgian minimum wage.  The workers include 600 Ukrainians, 3 Filipinos and 24 Bangladeshis.  A further 41 Filipinos and 10 Bangladeshis were recruited via a temping agency under a contract stipulating that workers need to be paid according to Belgian legal provisions.

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