Forced labor camps found near Krakow

Last week National Employment Inspectors and police uncovered a forced labor camp operating just outside of Krakow. Gazeta Krakowska reported that 13 Ukrainian nationals were forced to work on an agricultural farm alongside Polish workers. The illegal Ukrainian workers were employed to plant shrubs and trees, while having their passports removed by the property owner. The eight men and five women lived in unacceptable conditions and worked over 12-hour work days. Wages were paid only upon workers’ departure, while the Ukrainians worked anywhere from a few weeks to a few months at the labor camp.According to Gazeta Krakowska, the illegal workers must leave Poland and will have their entry visas temporarily suspended. The agricultural property owner will be facing charges for illegal employment of foreigners. Poland is not the only country dealing with forced labor camp problems and human trafficking. In July 2006, Polish and Italian police uncovered a forced labor camp operating in Italy’s southern region of Puglia; more than 113 Poles were rescued. An international criminal ring comprised of Poles, Ukrainians, Italians and Algerians orchestrated work camps with squalid conditions and meager wages. During their two-year-long operation, more than 1,000 Poles were estimated to have been lured into such camps. Unlike the free labor movement between some EU countries, Poland limits its entry of Ukrainian workers, allowing them to work legally in Poland three months with a valid visa. A work permit is not required for that period. After three months, the Ukrainian worker is obligated to return to Ukraine before re-entering Poland for work. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, 1.3 mln illegal foreigners were working in Poland. Only 10,000 work permits were granted. Entry visas granted to Ukrainian nationals numbered at nearly 1.5 mln. The black market for Ukrainian illegal workers is big, as manual labor is especially needed.

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