Human Rights Without Frontiers will raise the issue at the OSCE/ODIHR Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw at mid-September
HRWF (30.08.2017) – The UN security Council voted unanimously to impose strict new sanctions on Pyongyang. The new measures significantly step up restrictions on North Korea’s international trade. Estimates say they may cost Pyongyang 1 billion dollars a year. The new sanctions in Resolution 2371 largely expand upon those measures adding, among other things, restrictions on the use and exploitation of NK laborers abroad.
According to numerous experts, close to 50,000 North Korean laborers worked this year in approximately fifteen countries on three continents (Asia, Africa and Europe), but in the past few decades, North Korean citizens had been officially dispatched to a total of forty-five countries. The exploitation of their workforce by their own regime is said to generate benefits in hard currencies amounting to 1.2 – 2.3 billion USD, a financial manna which is welcome to finance the nuclear program of North Korea. Some EU member states have been involved in this exploitation. Poland and Russia are some of them in the OSCE space.
Exploitation of North Korean workers in Poland
North Koreans that are sent to Polish shipyards and other worksites are subject, by their own political regime, to various forms of exploitation with the passive approval of the Polish authorities and the private companies hiring them. Examples of unlawful exploitation of these workers include:
- Work hours ranging between 12 and 16 hours a day, with only one or two days of rest a month
- An average monthly wage of $120-150 per month, which is only 10-20% of their actual labor value in the contracts. As they are not allowed to have a bank account or to receive this money in cash, they are given a small stipend for personal use and will only collect their accumulated wages upon return to North Korea;
- Upon arrival in Poland, workers’ passports and visas are confiscated by a North Korean so-called ‘supervisor’;
- While in Poland, North Korean workers are denied freedom of movement. Every day they are transferred to and from their worksite and dormitories by bus, and are under constant surveillance by North Korean security agents; they may not have any contact with the local population, and are separated from non-North Korean workers in their workplaces.
The Polish authorities are fully aware of this situation and yet an end has not been put to these systematic violations of the ILO standards.
Polish private companies hiring exploited NK workers
A number of Polish companies have been identified as employing North Korean laborers and subjecting them to these improper work conditions:
- Alson Sp. Z.o.o.
- Aramex Elektro Sp. Z.o.o.52
- Aramex Sp. Z.o.o.
- Borgwarner Poland Sp. Z.o.o.
- Fabryka Mebli „Ryś’ Sp. Z.o.o.
- FLAIR POLAND Sp. Z o.o.
- Fms Kielce Sp. Z o.o. Mielec
- Fms Kielce Sp. Z.o.o. Ceramika Harasiuki – Harasiuki
- HSBC Service Delivery (Polska) Sp. Z.o.o.
- JP Construct Sp. Z.o.o.
- K&K Select Sp. Z.o.o.
- K&K Select Aviation Sp. Z.o.o.
- K&K Selekt Itd. – Foreigners Recruitment
- Medif Prywatna Kasa Chorych Sa
- Monolit Sp. Z.o.o.
- Przedsiębiorstwo Produkcyjno – Handlowe „Postęp’ S.A.
- Przedsiębiorstwo Usługowo – Handlowe Modern – Bud Sp. Z.o.o. Gospodarstwo Rolne
- Tomasz Kociszewski
- Puckie Centrum Medyczne Sp. Z.o.o. Sp. Komandytowa Zs. W Pucku,
- Redshield Sp. Z.o.o.
- Stalbud – Budownictwo Sp. Z.o.o.
- Stalbud – Konstrukcje Sp. Z.o.o.
- Uniwersytet Gdański (Gdańsk),
- Wonye Sp. Z.o.o.
Three North Korean state companies have provided Polish companies with North Korean workers
- Korea Cholsan General Corporation
- Korea Rungrado General Trading Corporation
- Korea South – South Cooperation Corporation
An exceptional 32-minute investigation video report made by Polish journalists about the exploitation of North Korean workers in Poland is available online at the following web addresses:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNVCdL908ko (Sub-titles in English and French)
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