The Slovenia Times

Retailer exposed for alleged abuse of migrant workers

A Tuš shopping centre.
Photo: Tamino Petelinšek/STA
File photo

The Labour Inspectorate has filed criminal complaints in a case involving two temp agencies from Slovakia and retailer Engrotuš where a number of shelf fillers from abroad reportedly worked massive overtime.

Acting chief labour inspector Luka Lukić presented to the press on 23 March the results of a months-long investigation of several Slovenian companies that worked with Slovakian agencies Stominus and Pertas, which no longer had a temp agency services permit in Slovakia.

The agencies provided the companies with 379 workers, mostly from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia as well as Ukraine. The inspectorate found a number of violations, including payments below the minimum wage, overtime and non-payment for overtime, rest violations and falsified forms.

Standing out is the case of Engrotuš, which hired 138 of these agency workers. The company was subjected to a more detailed inspection, conducted in cooperation with the Financial Administration.

According to inspectors, several shelf fillers hired this way worked more than 200 hours a month, one of them even 413, which translates to 13-hour shifts seven days a week.

Lukić said Stominus and Engrotuš violated the rights of at least 20 workers. Criminal complaints have been filed against those responsible. The inspectorate plans to push ahead with close inspections across the country, suspecting that such violations are widespread.

According to the inspectorate, Engrotuš took the position that it was not outsourcing workers but services and that it evaluated the service not by hours but by the amount of shelf space filled.

The retailer told the STA it had not yet received the inspectorate's report and could not comment on the content. "We have asked the Labour Inspectorate to inform us about the findings presented in the media," Engrotuš said, adding that it had terminated the contract with Stominus.

Labour Ministry State Secretary Dan Juvan pointed to a series of legislative changes aimed at improving the status of migrant workers, including the amendments to the law on cross-border services passed by the National Assembly on 22 March that strike out a provision on payment of lower pension contributions for certain posted workers.

Changes to rules governing the electronic records of working hours are in parliamentary procedure and the ministry and social partners have started talks on temp agencies, with the goals including limits to agency hiring, and better defined and more extensive rights for agency workers. The plan is to address the status of foreign agencies on the Slovenian labour market as well.


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