Government tackles black market labor

Hundreds of thousands of BiH workers caught in illegal jobs

The agency tasked to stop black market labor is starting an aggressive new effort to punish employers who hire workers illegally.

‘The government started this action, because it identified this problem as one of its priority tasks’ says Kemal Đuliman, chief inspector of the Inspectorate of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH).

In February, the Center for Investigative Reporting in Sarajevo (CIN) looked at the black market labor in BiH. It found more than 240,000 citizens have given up on health care and pensions to work in the black labor markets. Experts told CIN that this trend will likely cause misery and social problems as these people reach retirement age.

Now the government says it is going to do something about it. Some 150 inspectors will fan out across the Federation working 12-hour days. Inspectors will not know in advance which businesses they will be checking.

‘The ultimate goal is to protect the honest worker from dishonest employers’ says Đuliman. Government laws requires that employers pay pension and health benefits for full-time employees. ‘People should not have to work in a black market labor and not be slaves to various employers.’ Đuliman says if all employers paid, it would help BiH’s chronically underfunded programs.

As of June 22, the Inspectorate of FBiH received about 9,500 complaints of violations of the labor law. Inspection of those complaints will follow in July, and if the law has been broken, charges will be brought. The penalties for those employers who are not paying contributions for the workers vary from 1,000 to 15,000 KM. Đuliman says that certain employers could be banned from doing further business and their premises will be sealed.

Young people between 18 and 35 are those most likely to be employed in black market labor conditions according to a poll of 1,550 people done for CIN by Prism Research in December.

‘The idea for this action existed for a long time and it was difficult to do, because there was no funding’ says Đuliman who credited CIN’s stories with speeding up the process.