By Roy Mabasa
The European Parliament will look into the case of the 22 Filipino truck drivers who were found living and working in ghastly conditions in a southern city in Denmark near its border with Germany.
“Their living conditions are inhumane. In many respect, it’s hard to imagine human beings living like this,” EU Parliament Member Rina Ronja Kari said in a video posted on a Copenhagen-based online media platform.
This development came after the Danish police raided a property in Padborg on Tuesday morning and found the Filipino drivers living in “slum-like” conditions in containers. The property is owned by the Danish employer, Kurt Beier Transport.
Danish authorities are also conducting a wider investigation that may include the participation of tax authority, immigration, and the fire and safety office.
Danish media reported that the scope of the probe may also look into whether the living conditions of the truckers are so poor that the case could be encompassed by the scope of human trafficking legislation.
It was reported that the truckers are currently cooperating with the police and are giving statements regarding their work, employment, taxes and housing.
The Philippine Embassy in Norway, which has jurisdiction over Denmark, has been working closely with Danish authorities in the past weeks to assist the Filipino truck drivers.
It is also coordinating with the United Federation of Danish Workers, Danish authorities, and other contacts as soon as the Embassy was informed of the drivers’ situation.
Reacting to the report, the Danish workers union criticized the “dire” conditions of the Filipinos who are being paid far way below the minimum wage in that country.
Philippine Ambassador to Norway Jocelyn Batoon-Garcia flew to Denmark with a team to determine the status of the drivers whose living conditions the Embassy said are unacceptable by any standard.
The envoy said the Embassy will make sure the Filipinos are treated humanely and with dignity.
In a video posted on the Copenhagen Post Online, one of the Filipino truck drivers whose face was partly covered to conceal his identity, said, “they treat us not like humans and call us monkeys.”
It was reported that the Filipino drivers were recruited in Manila thru a Polish subsidiary of the Danish employer.