Borealis suspends the contract with contractor IREM-Ponticelli and temporarily shuts down the controversial yard in Kallo.
Two days ago, 55 suspected victims of human trafficking were discovered on the construction site of the large plastic factory of chemical giant Borealis in Kallo.
They apparently received a wage of at most 650 euros per month to work 6 out of 7 days on the construction of a new factory. The Antwerp Labor Prosecution Service is investigating the case.
Flemish Minister of Work and Economy Jo Brouns (CD&V) is having an investigation into whether the 314 foreign employees at the Borealis site in Kallo are being employed correctly.
“ If it is determined that employees were hired under a false contract, it means that authorizations to work were issued under false pretenses,” Brouns said.
Borealis had been aware of social abuses at its yard in the port of Antwerp since May.
This is apparent from a communication that newspaper “Gazet van Antwerpen” was able to view on Wednesday.
Former labor prosecutor and former judge Ebe Verhaegen identified irregularities in the employment of a Ukrainian worker , irregularities that also surfaced with 50 other colleagues. He filed a complaint with the social inspectorate in May.
Almost simultaneously, Verhaegen also informed a person in charge of the HR department at Borealis about the social irregularities on the construction site. He promised to investigate the matter in May. The communication shows that Borealis questioned the impact on the construction project if there were consequences from the investigation by the social inspectorate.
According to Verhaegen, it is also strange that the subcontractor Irem-General Contractor made use of two agreements: one official and one that the Department of Work and Social Economy was not shown.
Borealis was aware since may but funnily enough they seem to focus on the impact that this may have on the progress of the construction work. What about the lives of those 55 workers?