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Serbia must probe alleged forced labour at Linglong factory - EU parl

Serbia must probe alleged forced labour at Linglong factory - EU parl Source: Zrenjanin city government

BELGRADE (Serbia), December 17 (SeeNews) - The European Parliament urged Serbia to investigate alleged human rights violations at Chinese-owned Linglong Tire factory in the country's northern city of Zrenjanjin and provide the EU with the results of its probe, the EU institution said.

"Parliament expresses deep concern over alleged forced labour, human rights violations, and the human trafficking of around 500 Vietnamese people" at the premises, the European Parliament said in a statement issued on Thursday.

In November, after a Vietnamese worker in the factory complained before Serbian media about the conditions in which the construction workers live and allegedly got fired after that, other Vietnamese workers declared strike, sparking protests in other Serbian cities.

Commenting on the situation, Serbia's ombudsman said that Linglong officials had seized the passports of 402 Vietnamese employees and held them in a separate building. He also explained that workers from two sites had to be relocated due to fire hazard.

The members of the European Parliament expressed concern with China's growing influence in Serbia and the Western Balkans and urged the Serbian authorities not to provide Chinese companies privileges that are in collision with the EU law. Furthermore, they called upon Serbia to comply with the relevant International Labour Organization conventions it has ratified.

The ground breaking ceremony for the Linglong factory was held in 2019. The 800 million euro ($906.2 million) factory, which is a part of China's Belt and Road Initiative, will hire 1,200 workers and be able to produce up to 13 million tires per year, the government said at the time.

($ = 0.8827 euro)