The Slovenia Times

Chief labour inspector Grlić resigns


Ljubljana - Jadranko Grlić, the country's chief labour inspector, resigned on Wednesday following a TV report of another case of exploitation of foreign workers in recent months. The Labour Inspectorate said he had stepped down over differences of opinion with the Labour Ministry about the powers and manner of work of the inspectorate.

Minister Luka Mesec indicated a change at the helm of the Labour Inspectorate was an option as he commented yesterday on the TV Slovenija report that a group of 12 Indian workers had been subject to severe exploitation and threats at a car wash in Ljubljana, and had eventually run away from the employer, the company Amonte.

"The problem is that such stories are always uncovered by NGOs or investigative journalists, while it should be inspectors who identify them," the minister told the Odmevi news show.

Mesec said that in talking with labour inspectors about their methods and their understanding of the problem, he had realised that "they don't understand it", adding that he did not rule out the possibility of replacing the chief inspector.

The Labour Inspectorate has meanwhile provided some details about the latest exploitation case, as well as some statistics about its work in a press release.

It says that inspectors always get in touch with institutions, such as tax authorities and the police, in investigating such cases, which also happened with Amonte.

Each of the institutions carried out its part of the job at several locations as soon as they were notified of the potential violations.

The information the Inspectorate had received about Amonte raised suspicion of human trafficking and had been forwarded to the police on the same day.

The labour inspection showed no violations regarding accommodation of the workers, while all the other procedures are still ongoing.

The TV report suggested the employer had been prepared for the inspection as he had given the workers back their passports.

But the Inspectorate says it never announces its visits, as such practice would prevent them from identifying many violations or issue fines.

It also says that most of the violations happen over a long period of time and can thus not be concealed.

The Inspectorate receives around 7,000 reports a year, while there are only 53 inspectors for employment and just over 30 for safety and occupational hazard.

Last year, over 38,600 checks were conducted, up over 21,000 from 2020, although the steep rise was mostly due to checks of compliance with coronavirus measures.

More than 18,340 breaches of legislation were identified and fines worth over EUR 3.5 million issued.

Grlić was appointed acting chief labour inspector in July 2018 when the government relieved his predecessor of her duties on her own wish. He was then appointed for a full five-year term in February 2019 with the option of reappointment.


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