7 Bulgarian Construction Workers Reported in Distress in Iraq

Diplomacy | August 26, 2011, Friday // 11:48|  views

Thirty five construction workers, including 7 Bulgarians are "living like animals" in the Iraq capital of Bagdad after not receiving any pay since January. File map.

Seven Bulgarian and 28 Ukrainian construction workers are reported in distress in the Iraq capital Baghdad.

They are surviving only on food and water brought them by humanitarian workers, according to the French TV channel France 24.

The group includes people between the ages of 21 and 56. There is one woman among them. The workers came on the promises of good pay for building facilities for the Arab League summit, but the nightmare began after the latter was postponed indefinitely and the project frozen, the Bulgarian news agency BTA writes.

The 35 workers, reportedly, live in the top security "green zone" in Baghdad, cramped in 3 rooms without any pay. They have deposited between USD 300 and 500 to land the jobs in Iraq with the promises of making USD 2 000 to 2 500 a month.

After their arrival between December 2010, and February 2011, they were told to not expect anything exceeding USD 1 800 as a wage, but nevertheless, since they lacked any choice, they signed the contract with Noblehus – a company owned jointly by a Bulgarian and a Swede with Iraqi origins. The company became a subcontractor of the Turkish Salar Group, which was the successful bidder for a contract worth USD 38.5 M to build 22 villas.

The workers have not received any pay since January. In April, they stopped work and demand they receive a total of USD 286 000 owed to them.

One of them is quoted saying "they all live like animals" in the 3 rooms with bunk beds, stinking toilets and showers working for 3 hours a day when there is electric power. The workers are afraid to leave the security zone over fears of being arrested since their employers never provided the promised visas. At least six are ill over the poor conditions.

Vesela Cherneva, spokesperson of the Bulgarian Foreign Affairs Ministry, has said in a phone call to AFP that Bulgarian authorities have raised the issue with both Turkey and Iraq, pointing out the country brought back, in the beginning of the month, scores of Bulgarians from oil facilities in Basra after their Iraqi employer failed to pay them as well.

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Tags: Bulgarian, Ukrainian, construction, workers, distress, Iraq, Baghdad, Vesela Cherneva, Salar group, Noblehus, Foreign Affairs Ministry, turkey


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