“On average, 60,000 people leave Serbia every year in search of work abroad, while in the first five months of this year, 5,000 work permits were issued to foreign citizens here, although the number of those working illegally is much higher”, says the president of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions, Dragan Todorović.
According to him, the biggest problem in Serbia is that the skilled workforce is leaving, i.e. nurses, caregivers, construction workers and craftsmen of all kinds, but also quite a few university graduates.
In a statement to Tanjug news agency, Todorović says that the position of foreigners coming to work in Serbia is also unregulated: “Official statistics say that in the first five months 5,000 work permits were issued to foreign nationals, and we are certain that there are still as many, if not more, illegal foreign workers working here”, said Todorović, adding that it is humiliating for people to work illegally in state-funded projects and one of the problems is the small number of labour inspectors, around 200 in the whole territory of Serbia.
He explains that the subcontractors working on these projects employ foreign nationals and that, as he says, no-one checks whether the workers are registered or not and what kind of work they do, and adds that recruitment agencies are intermediaries between the foreign workers and the employers.
“The agencies offer these workers as cheap labour, as in the days of slavery, taking advantage of the fact that they register them digitally. They tell the employers that they will work for a minimum of 10-12 hours a day, without a day of rest, with accommodation and two meals”, Todorović draws attention. As he says, most of the workers seeking work come to Serbia, where there is a shortage of bricklayers, restaurant workers and farmworkers. They usually come from the region, India, Romania and Turkey.
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