Bangladeshi workers vindicated by European court over forced labor in 2013

Bangladeshi workers vindicated by European court over forced labor in 2013

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ordered Greece to compensate 42 Bangladeshi nationals to the tune of more than half a million euros for essentially turning a blind eye to their exploitation on a strawberry farm in southwestern Greece in 2013.

Chastising Greek authorities for failing to protect the migrants, the ECHR ordered Athens to pay each plaintiff between 12 and 16,000 euros.

The workers were shot at while protesting over unpaid wages and forced labor on a strawberry farm near the town of Manolada. The incident led to about 20 foreign workers sustaining injuries.

The workers resorted to the ECHR after a Greek court in 2014 acquitted the employers of the charge of forced labor, slapping them with minor fines, to the disgust of unions and rights groups.

The exploitation of foreign workers, mostly undocumented migrants, at strawberry farms in the region surrounding Manolada was rampant before the shots were fired.

Workers were reportedly forced to work 12-hour shifts and lived in appalling conditions in makeshift huts with no toilets or running water.

Employers at Manolada told workers they would only get paid if they continued working.

“The facts at issue, and particularly the applicants’ working conditions, showed clearly that they amounted to human trafficking and forced labor,” the EHCR said.

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