Bozhidar Lazarov is a freelance writer, hobbyist programmer and an aspired novelist. Feel free to follow him on https://www.minds.com/seriousways for his latest articles and personal projects.
Were There Real Modern-Day Slaves in Cornwall, England?
Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria -
Last week, the liberation of white slaves in the city of Cornwall, England was reported. Now that the tension has lowered it is possible to see if there was white slavery in the flower farm.
The case of white slaves from Poland, Lithuania, Romania, and Bulgaria held in a flower farm in Cornwall, England has caused a lot of commotion in Bulgaria and has made people more cautious about opportunities to work abroad. Still, the question remains, was there really a case of white slavery, or was it just empty complaints from people, who expected far less work than they received?
Damyan Draganov, a young man from Bulgaria, has previously worked in English farms twice. The first time, he was picking strawberries in Mayton in 2013 and the second time we has picking leek in another farm in Skelmersdale, back in 2014. Even though his contracts were for 6 months, both times he had returned prematurely, due to discrepancies between the contract and the actual work.
According to his words, he was working 12 hours a day and was placed to live in unacceptable conditions. He tried to contact the mediator company with a transfer request, but they did not pick up the phone, so he managed to get back home only when he had collected enough money for a ticket.
The company which sent the Bulgarian “white slaves” in Cornwall, has previous felonies which almost led to the company losing its license. Back in 2016 serious discrepancies between the labour contracts and the actual work have been noted. Besides that, many workers left the country without a labour contract and some of them were even extorted for money by their employers. Even though their licence was revoked, later on, the mediator company pleaded before the court and were licensed again. Now, a second procedure to revoke their license has taken place after the Cornwall scandal.
Bulgarian media have reached out towards the workers at the Cornwall flower farm in order to receive a first-hand testimony of the conditions of life and work at the place. One of the women working there stated “I do not know what people are complaining from, we’ve got all we need. We are satisfied”. Another woman shared “Nothing bothers us and we have no problems, our ID’s are with us”.
Still, some people shared stories in full contrast with the above statements. “They treat us like dogs. We go to them, we complain and they treat us like dogs” – said another Bulgarian woman. Some of the workers in the farm have reported that instead of a shower, they were given a bucket with water to pour over themselves.
Investigations are still looking into the matter. The most important fact that should be revealed is whether the workers were treated as their labour contract states. There are special laws which apply to foreign workers and it is important to see if they were kept.
Obviously, there is a big problem with Eastern European workers in England and things have to change in order to keep to basic humanity. As far as the Cornwall casus is concerned, nothing can be said for sure until the official investigations have concluded.
(Picture taken from: cornwall-online.co.uk)