Migrant workers in Russia 'abused'

Human rights organisation says workers regularly face violence and exploitation.

    Human Rights Watch says the Russian government needs to take urgent action on the issue [AFP]

    'Vulnerable'

    Human Rights Watch, which is based in the United States, said the Russian government had failed to protect workers from abusive employers, employment agencies and the police.

    "Without urgent action by the Russian government, migrant construction workers will be doubly vulnerable to abuse, both by employers and by others looking to scapegoat migrants for the country's economic problems," Jane Buchanan, the report's author said.

    IN VIDEO


    Migrant workers allege abuse in Russia

    The report found employers were not providing contracts, or safe working conditions for workers.

    In some cases, workers said employers had confiscated their passports, forced them to work without pay, made them sleep on the floors of dirty trailers and endure beatings.

    "Sadly, violence seems to be a fact of life for many migrant workers in Russia," Buchanan said.

    "Whether it's employers trying to intimidate their workers, police roughing them up during a shake-down, or hate-motivated attacks by regular citizens, Russia's migrant workers are vulnerable at almost every turn."

    Housing criticised

    Employers were also accused of not taking enough care with safety.

    A 27-year-old welder from Kyrgyzstan told Human Rights Watch his employer had refused to call a doctor when he fell on a nail from 2 metres, which pierced his abdomen.

    A foreman from Belarus said he fell from the 17th floor of a building after his safety belt broke and had to save himself by catching hold of scaffolding on the eighth floor.

    Housing for workers was also criticised, with workers in Russia's southern Rostov region complaining that they slept in a filthy cargo container and were forced to drink rain water from puddles and a nearby swamp.

    Russian officials have not yet commented on the report.

    The government has said migrant workers are important for its economy, but it says many of them fall foul of the authorities because they do not have proper residency or work permits.

    They also accuse some migrants of being involved in crime.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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