Photo: Steffen Zahn

To tackle labour exploitation in Poland, Bulgaria and Romania, six organisations worked together to raise awareness and build capacity among trade unions and labour organisations, anti-trafficking NGOs and migrant rights NGOs to promote identification and cooperation on referral of cases of labour exploitation.The findings of the research are now published by La Strada International together with La Strada Poland, the Association for Legal Intervention/SIP, Animus Association, AIDRom, SOMO and FairWork.

The project wants to contribute to addressing and preventing labour rights infringements and exploitation (including severe forms of labour exploitation such as human trafficking and forced labour) in Poland, Bulgaria and Romania.

Attention for vulnarability

Despite differing migratory patterns and economic situations within each national context, many similarities can be seen in the bottlenecks to tackling labour exploitation in Poland, Bulgaria and Romania. These include remaining lack of awareness among relevant stakeholders and lack of attention for the vulnerability of migrant workers.

Furthermore, there are many difficulties with interpretation and implementation of existing legislation in practice. In all three countries there is a need for structural and systematic cooperation among – and engagement of – all relevant stakeholders, including trade unions and migrant workers organisations.

Identification of victims of labour exploitation and prosecution of perpetrators also needs serious improvement, by ensuring adequate and safe reporting and complaint mechanisms including the establishment of a clear fire wall between inspection on decent labour standards and migration control. All recommendations made in the report aim to address these shortages.

Indentify legal gaps

For each of the countries – Poland, Bulgaria and Romania – the context of human trafficking and labour exploitation was mapped through field visits in 2017, and desk research and analyses in 2017-2018. The mapping included online research and face-to-face interviews with local partners, and through them other experts and authorities.

Fact-finding missions took place to map labour rights infringements, and to identify current gaps in the legal protection framework and its enforcement. In 2017, a working group of relevant stakeholders was set up in all three countries to discuss the state of affairs in their country regarding precarious working conditions, exploitation and business and human rights frameworks. During the course of the project, these groups helped identify barriers to identification of victims and claiming justice, as well recommendations for change.

Rights at Work La Strada International