Portuguese victims of “modern slavery” in Luxembourg

Portuguese construction workers set out for Luxembourg in search of a better life only to find a living nightmare, a shock report highlighted by Jornal de Notícias has revealed.

The newspaper cited an investigation by Luxembourg radio station RTL, which has blown the whistle on multiple cases of “modern slavery” plaguing immigrant Portuguese construction workers.

“They are enticed to move to Luxembourg with promises of high salaries but are greeted to a totally different reality,” JN reports.

According to RTL’s investigation, there are cases of workers who earn €7.5 per hour – a decent wage in Portugal, but far below the legal minimum wage in Luxembourg.

In fact, living off that wage in what is one of the European countries with the highest cost of living would be “nearly impossible”, explains JN, adding that some of the construction projects are State run, while others are private.

The paper adds that there have been cases of over 20 Portuguese at a time crammed into “substandard accommodation” in garages and bathrooms.

Portugal’s construction union has described the news as “catastrophic”.

Union president Albano Ribeiro adds that workers can end up stranded in Luxembourg because wages are delayed and they don’t have money to return home.

Similar horrors have also been signalled in Belgium, he said.

Secretary of State for Portuguese Communities Abroad, José Cesário, told JN that he has received complaints from workers in Luxembourg but is unaware of the cases cited in the RTL report.