“The government rejects the current constitutional framework and sees us as a tribe that has a chief with whom investors talk, ignoring people’s rights, which is obvious in the case of Linglong.” Our rights, guaranteed by the constitution, as well as environmental standards, should be respected by every company that appears in Serbia, and that is not the case. Almost all companies violate them, and Chinese ones are even worse because they bring with them a work culture known for the extremely bad position of employees “- said Dr. Savo Manojlović, President of the Association for the Protection of Constitutionality and Legality at the panel discussion on human rights violations by Chinese companies held last night in Zrenjanin.
Manojlović reminded that Aleksandar Vučić once said on RTS (public broadcasting service) that Chinese companies come to Serbia because there is a lot of pollution in China, that is why they have problems there, so we use this “opportunity” to bring them here, thus confirming that we are deliberately and intentionally violating the right to a healthy environment. The courts should provide us with protection from such phenomena, which is not the case, so this is a complete suspension of the rule of law. In such a situation, if the institutions do not solve the accumulated problems, the streets will solve them, and that is not a threat, but social regularity, because citizens have the right to rebel and to self-defense – concluded Manojlović.
Dr. Mario Reljanović, research associate at the Institute for Comparative Law, pointed out that Chinese investments in Serbia are not legally shaped so that they can bring some benefit to employees or the local population, and the state of Serbia, because it is a “race to the bottom” that does not bring benefits to anyone other than to the owner of the capital.
The situation of Chinese workers is terrible, their coming to Serbia is based on the Employment Law of foreign workers, so the Labor Law and other domestic labor regulations do not apply to them. The transfer of workers from one country to another within the same company is not in itself disputable, but in this case, it is about the import of slave labor. The hiring of domestic labor is based on contracts that often have “exotic” provisions on monitoring or surveillance, which are criminal acts, but the prosecution and labor inspection do not react to that even after the television revealed such examples in Bor and Zrenjanin.
Reljanović conveyed the findings of the president of the union of the Smederevo ironworks that there are no women in the production plants there, and the reason is that the Chinese believe that women bring bad luck in production. He also reminded of the case of kicking an engineer in Bor by a Chinese employer, which was explained by cultural differences. That passes without consequences and is adopted as normal in Serbia, Reljanović warned. Of the fifty indicators of human trafficking, more than thirty have been met in the case of Vietnamese workers in Linglong, and only eight are enough to characterize the crime. Despite that, the prosecution does not announce itself, and the Protector of Citizens states that “they are not hungry but waiting for a Vietnamese cook”, which is his rudeness, but above all an example of self-denial of the state’s own role, to the detriment of human rights.
Miroslav Samardzic, political scientist, and moderator of this forum reminded that it was officially announced that mixed Chinese-Serbian police patrols were operating in Serbia, and that in some incidents near Linglong in Zrenjanin, uniformed persons of Asian origin were seen, and it was not clear whether it means that they are allowed to carry out certain measures against the local population as well.
Present journalist Ivana Gordić Perc reminded of her negative experience with the Chinese from Linglong who followed her, photographed her, intimidated, and prevented her from doing her job, noting that it is only a matter of time before not only activist and journalist will be put under pressure but all citizens.
Savo Manojlović and Mario Reljanović agreed that violations of human rights in Chinese companies are affecting their environment and society, reminding that in legal psychology this is called “broken window theory”.