Migrant workers receive documents back with the help of ADC Memorial

In June 2011 three citizens of Tajikistan came to ADC Memorial with the complain that their passports were illegaly taken by their empoloyer – director of an enterprise in Sosnovy Bor. The applicants worked at the sawmill near the railway station Kalishche. In April 2011 the employer promised to obtain work permits and took their passports.They had to work at the sawmill. If they did not, the employer threatened to destroy their passports. No attempts to obtain legal labour contracts were made. The employer also asked to pay money for work permits. In fact the employer used forced labour with threats and violence, but the workers were afraid to come to the police because of their “illegal” status.
The experts of ADC Memorial, A.Yakimov and D.Poltavsky, went to applicants’ place of work to check the information on violations and meet the employer. It turned out that other migrants with the same problems worked at the enterprise (citizens of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine) – the employer has taken their passports many times to make them work.
Memorial experts managed to meet the representatives of the employer. The representatives admitted that they took passports but refused to give them back as the documents were in another firm from St Petersburg. That firm was supposed to issue the work permits.
As a result, ADC Memorial filed an appeal to the prosecutor’s office in Sosnovy Bor asking to punish the employer who took the documents illegally and give them back to the workers.
After many calls to the employer and “mediator companies” the passports were given back, although it took very long time.
In spite of the success in this case, the employer will not be probably punished. Unfortunately, the employers  take passports of the foreign workers very often. The threat that police would know about their illegal status is a good means to make migrants work without wages and not complain about it. The employers threatens to say about it to the Federal migration service or police although they are violators themselves.  Our organisation paid attention to this problem many times, including recent letter to the head of the FMS, K. Romodanovsky.  The case in Sosnovy Bor is another proof of frequency of such violations.

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