Borealis dismisses allegations of human trafficking and blames contractor
Chemical company Borealis - which is building the site in the port of Antwerp where 55 workers were employed illegally - says it is demanding full transparency from its contractor IREM-Ponticelli. "We consider the respectful treatment of all people working with and for the company an absolute priority", Borealis said on Tuesday in a press release.
IREM-Ponticelli is overseeing the construction of Borealis' new site in Kallo. "Borealis requires all contractors and business partners to fully comply with all legal requirements, including labour laws", the chemical company claims in its press release.
Borealis says it is surprised and outraged by the allegations of human trafficking. The company has set up a task force to investigate the matter.
On the company's construction site, 55 Filipino and Bengali workers were being exploited and are possibly victims of human trafficking. The Antwerp labour auditorate is conducting an investigation. The victims were allegedly employed by contractor IREM-Ponticelli with Hungarian work visas, some expired, and worked six days out of seven for only 650 euros a month, De Tijd reported. They also lived in appalling conditions on an industrial estate in Deurne, local newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen writes.
Borealis says it is surprised and outraged by the allegations of human trafficking. The company has set up a task force to investigate the matter. "We consider the respectful treatment of all people working with and for the company an absolute priority, and demand full transparency from IREM-Ponticelli. All contractors are contractually required to conduct themselves in an ethical manner, as outlined in the Borealis Code of Business Conduct."
IREM-Ponticelli is a temporary joint venture between France's Ponticelli S.A.S. and Italy's Irem S.p.a. Neither company is commenting on the case for now.
© BELGA PHOTO YORICK JANSENS