Sixty Poles say a Gdansk labor recruiting agency lured them to Sweden with promises of skilled jobs that didn’t exist ? and they ended up doing backbreaking work crushing rocks and clearing forests.
And, they say, they weren’t even paid for the work. Thus, they maintain, what happened to them amounted to being in a slave-labor camp for an extended period.
The Gdansk agency counters that they never promised the Poles skilled-labor jobs.
Government investigators are trying to determine who is telling the truth.
The bricklayers, mechanics and carpenters say that for several weeks they worked in a quarry without getting money or meals. On weekends they cleared forest, they told the Warsaw-based newspaper Gazeta Polska.
“”It was a labor camp,”” asserted Wojciech Lange of Kleszczew Koscierski in Pomerania.
The Swedpool labor-recruiting agency “”promised I’d work as a carpenter and receive a high income,”” he said. That prompted him to leave a decent-paying job in Poland, he said.
However, he spent all his money on expenses in Sweden without making any income, he said. “”Now I’m penniless,”” he moaned.
The Swedpool agency has a Pomeranian government certificate that suggests it is a reliable labor broker between Swedish employers
A woman working at Swedpool who refused to give her name said in a telephone conversation with Gazeta Polska that the Polish workers were lying about being promised skilled jobs. “”They simply didn’t want to work,”” she said. She added that “”many of them abuse alcohol.””
She also contended that Swedpool made no promises about how much money the workers would make.
The workers’ complaints have prompted government labor investigators to look into the agency’s practices. As part of that investigation, they are interviewing many of the workers.
Many of the Polish workers thought going to Sweden was the chance of a lifetime. “”We were promised work as skilled laborers, mechanics, carpenters, bricklayers,”” Lange said. When they arrived in Sweden, however, they found no skilled-labor positions, he said.
A few days later, they said, a Swedish employer offered them jobs in the quarries for the equivalent of 25 zloty an hour. A week later, when they were supposed
In 2006, Italian police freed 113 Poles living in what amounted to a slave-labor camp in Italy’s southern region of Puglia. Those who refused to work were beaten with metal batons and attacked by dogs. Some of the women at the camps were raped.
A joint law-enforcement operation between Italy and Poland led to 20 arrests for human trafficking.