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B9-0599/2021
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MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on Forced labour in the Linglong factory and environmental protests in Serbia

14.12.2021 - (2021/3020(RSP))

with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
pursuant to Rule 144 of the Rules of Procedure

Miguel Urbán Crespo
on behalf of The Left Group

Procedūra : 2021/3020(RSP)
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Dokumento priėmimo eiga :  
B9-0599/2021
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B9-0599/2021
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B9‑0599/2021

European Parliament resolution on Forced labour in the Linglong factory and environmental protests in Serbia

(2021/3020(RSP))

The European Parliament,

-  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;

 

-  having regard to the eight core ILO Conventions in particular Convention No. 29 on Forced Labour, Convention No. 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, Convention No. 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining, Convention No. 100 on Equal Remuneration, Convention No. 105 on the Abolition of Forced Labour, and Convention No. 111 on Discrimination (Employment and Occupation);

 

-  having regard to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights of 2011;

 

-  having regard to Rule 144 of its Rules of Procedure,

 

 

  1. whereas Serbian NGOs have denounced labour exploitation and possible human trafficking of Vietnamese workers hired to build the first Chinese car tyre factory in Europe; whereas hundreds of Vietnamese workers have been submitted to poor working conditions, including lack of labour rights and respect for local employment laws;

 

  1. whereas they were allegedly hired by Linglong factory and they have been working 26 days a month, 9 hours a day, and with no provision for personal protective equipment at work; whereas the terms of the contracts, violate a raft of rules under Serbian labour law, from working-hours to vacation days and financial penalties;

 

  1. whereas the workers have been living in inhumane conditions: in barracks in overcrowded rooms with no proper heating or sewage systems, inadequate electricity and insufficient food and drinking water;

 

  1. whereas workers have reportedly gone on strike at least twice to protest the lack of food provided and wages not having been paid since May;

 

  1. whereas the workers were brought via an agency which demanded between $2,200 and $4,000 in advance which the workers obtained and paid to the agency through borrowing; whereas after arriving in Serbia, the workers had to hand over their passports to the employer;

 

  1. whereas Linglong International Europe D.O.O., said that a subcontractor – China Energy Engineering Group Tianjin Electric Power Construction Co. Ltd, CEEG TEPC – was responsible for the workers; whereas CEEG TEPC is not the only subcontractor hiring Vietnamese workers to build the factory; whereas other subcontractors have signed identical 1-year agreement contracts;

 

  1. whereas the project has also received complaints from environmentalists about potentially dangerous pollution from tyre production;

 

  1. whereas over the last years, the president Aleksandar Vučić has implemented neoliberal reforms such as privatisations, a reduction in pensions and salaries in the public sector, in order to attract foreign investment and also in response to the EU's requirements in the framework of the accession negotiation process; whereas critics say the government is minimizing the violations of labour rights and living conditions facing workers on major foreign investment projects;

 

  1. whereas Serbia suffers from some of Europe's worst pollution, and critics lay much of the blame on lax regulatory enforcement to encourage the flow of foreign investment; whereas Lithium mining projects, air pollution, and environmental protection issues have ignited large massive, and almost daily protests across Serbia; 

 

  1. whereas in recent weeks thousands of citizens have been protesting against the amendments to the Referendum Law and Law on Expropriation that they claim will facilitate foreign companies to exploit the country's natural resources; whereas the demonstrators are also protesting against mining concessions offered by the government to foreign companies; whereas the allegations regarding the police using excessive force and the detentions of dozens of protesters;

 

  1. whereas, according to the protesters, these laws would facilitate Rio Tinto and other companies exploring lithium deposits to easily obtain the land they need to mine the strategic commodity; whereas Lithium is crucial for the transition to renewables, but mining it is environmentally costly; whereas the European Commission estimates that demand for the lithium will grow 18 times by 2030 and 60 times by 2050;

 

  1. whereas Jadar project is one of the largest greenfield lithium projects currently in development and would supply mainly the European market; whereas experts have warned the project could devastate the local environment, destroy farmland and further pollute the waters; whereas two Serbian NGOs, filed charges this year against Rio Tinto’s Serbian subsidiary firm, accusing it of violating environmental regulations since 2015 in the wider Jadar Valley region;

 

  1. whereas the increasing global demand for access to natural resources often results in unsustainable exploitation of the natural and human environment, putting ordinary people at the frontline in protecting ecosystems, land, food, cultural heritage, communities and individuals against the impacts of climate change, and against the unsustainable extraction of raw materials, including fossil fuels, deforestation, illegal logging and land grabbing;

 

 

  1. Expresses its deep concerns about the allegations of labour exploitation and possible human trafficking of Vietnamese workers in Serbia;
  2. Strongly condemns and rejects the use of all types of labour exploitation; notes with great concern that ILO estimates that 24.9 million people are in forced labour (2016) in the world out of which 16 million people are exploited in the private sector such as domestic work, construction or agriculture, 4.8 million persons in forced sexual exploitation, and 4 million persons in forced labour imposed by state authorities;
  3. Urges the Serbian authorities, to investigate these allegations abuses of workers’ rights and human dignity and to sanction unfair labour practices with adequate fines;
  4. Defends the rights of workers to form, register and join independent trade unions without fear of harassment; considers the existence of democratic trade union structures to be a vital instrument in the struggle for better health and safety standards and working conditions, including higher wages;
  5. Rejects the neoliberal economic and structural reforms agenda imposed by the EU to Serbia in the framework of the accession negotiation process, including on public administration reform and economic governance; asks Serbian authorities to reverse the measures notably the ones affecting workers’ rights, to improve the working conditions and treatment of migrant workers and to provide adequate legal safeguards to all migrant workers within the country, including through structural inspections of their labour conditions;
  6. Urges the Serbian authorities not to weaken their national levels of environmental protection standards as an economic recovery response to the current COVID-19 or other crises or in response to the demands of foreign investment, and indeed reminds that economic recoveries can be an opportunity for a climate-resilient economic transformation and sustainable economic development; reiterates in this regard that sustainability as a fundamental condition for the enjoyment of all human rights without any form of discrimination should be the essential approach in policy-making in order to ensure that the public interest is safeguarded as well as the social, environmental and economic well-being of affected local communities;
  7. Highlights that the UN has recently adopted a resolution recognizing that the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment is a human right; considers that this recognition should serve as a catalyst for stronger environmental policies, improved law enforcement, public participation in environmental decision-making, access to information and justice and better outcomes for people and planet;
  8. Stresses the risks of human rights violations in international commodity supply chains for both conventional as well as green-tech and renewable energy; calls on the Commission to take human rights implications into account when assessing Union energy and transport technology pathways;
  9. Reiterates that the activities of European companies present in third countries must be entirely consistent with international human rights standards; calls, therefore, on the Member States to ensure that companies which come under their national law respect human rights or the social, health and environmental standards which apply to them when moving to, or doing business in, a third country; calls on the Commission and Member States to take the requisite action against European companies which do not comply with those standards or which do not adequately compensate victims of human rights violations for which they are directly or indirectly responsible;
  10. Calls on the EU and its Member States to work towards the conclusion of binding international agreements that reinforce respect for human rights, especially in the case of companies based in the Union and operating in third countries; and specifically, demands the support for the binding treaty that is being built within the United Nations;
  11. Reiterates that the announcements of green transitions in the world, are insufficient without prior wealth redistribution, since the cost of the transition will fall mostly on the poorer countries and poorer parts of societies; Stresses the importance of the concept of ‘climate justice’;
  12. Expresses its deep concern at the increasing criminalisation and persecution of environmental activists in Serbia and asks to acknowledge the contribution of their experience and knowledge to the fight against biodiversity loss and environmental degradation; recalls that the right to demonstrate is a basic right that must be respected and protected;
  13. Welcomes the fact that after the first weeks of protests, the President sent the Law of expropriation, back to parliament for reworking, and the parliament also introduced amendments to the Law on Referendum and People's Initiative; calls on the authorities to include the civil society's demands in the drafting of new laws;
  14. Denounces that several mining companies including Rio Tinto, prefer to approach countries with low environmental standards, where they are granted free land, are free from tax, and get free infrastructure, little control and little transparency; condemns that Rio Tinto’s investments all over the world are known for their impact on local communities and on the environment;
  15. Denounces any kind of instrumentalization of human rights for geopolitical reasons with the aim of destabilising a country and in that sense strongly criticize the instructions gave by the US Special Envoy to several opposition leaders in Serbia, to not criticize the current government regarding the Rio Tinto project;
  16. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the European Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the President, Government and National Assembly of Serbia, and the United Nations Human Rights Council.

 

 

Atnaujinta: 2021 m. gruodžio 14 d.
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