The 42 Indian guest workers started a quiet strike and sat in front of the mayor’s office in Kraljevo, Serbia.
According to Merce, the Serbian leftist Mašina said that the workers held signs on which they wrote that they have neither food nor water and that the company employing them has not given them food for 15 days.
The mayor’s office said that the Indians work for a subcontractor, have temporary contracts, and the company is officially owned by a US enterprise called IDEA Capital who are well-known in the sector for employing cheap labour force from the Indian subcontinent.
As another Serbian daily reported in January, this is not the first scandal of this kind by the company. For example, another brigade worked on the Serbian sector of the Budapest-Belgrade railway upgrade, and the company refused to pay their wages. Furthermore,
they sent them home with only 5,000 dinars (EUR 45) even though they worked for 2.5 months.
The Serbian line is being built with Chinese and Russian financial aid, and most of the workers are from India, based on some earlier reports by the Serbian media. However, the conditions of work were bad even then. Even though they worked in the middle of winter, they lived in unheated, crowded barracks and received their payment irregularly. Even though compared to the Indian wages, they get high salaries in Serbia (EUR 320 per month), their employers do not pay consistently for the ever-fluctuating workers.
IDEA Capital advertises attractive Serbian jobs everywhere in India, but soon after the workers arrive, it always comes to light that the company does not provide anything for their employees, and they try to get rid of them as soon as possible. Since the company’s headquarter is in Miami, it is almost impossible for the Serbian authorities to reach or fine them. It often happens that
it is difficult to get home for the guest workers.
Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán and his Serbian counterpart, Aleksandar Vučić, have both highlighted before that the Budapest-Belgrade megaproject is of great importance for them. Based on the numbers of the state budget, in 2020, Hungary is going to spend HUF 143 billion (EUR 407.39 million) on the railway upgrade while the country also received a HUF 750 billion (EUR 2.13 billion) Chinese loan for it. Opposition politicians say that the project will never return the costs so it is nothing else than malpractice.
The Parliament classified the Hungarian contract.
However, the Serbian one can be read, so we already know that the Chinese Eximbank gave 208 million dollars as a loan, and there is another infrastructure development package worth 1 billion dollars.