Asparagus farmer jailed for exploiting migrant workers

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An asparagus farmer who kept immigrant workers in conditions of “modern slavery” has been jailed for two and a half years.

Jose Janssen, 46, was found guilty of human trafficking and economic exploitation of Polish and Romanian seasonal workers on her premises in Someren, north Brabant.

Since 2005 authorities had pursued Janssen after she was found to be employing immigrants without papers and forcing them to live and work in degrading conditions.

Janssen was arrested in January last year at her home and computers, paperwork and E35,000 in cash seized. Her business has since been shut down.

By the time of her arrest she had already been fined more than half a million euros for breaches of employment law, including failing to report workplace accidents.

Police discovered 40 workers, mostly Romanians, who were housed in a filthy, non-fireproofed, windowless space and forbidden to leave the site.

They were paid as little as E5 an hour, with deductions for food and lodging, and forced to work for more than 12 hours a day.

In May 2009 a team of 15 researchers travelled to Poland, Romania and Portugal to gather evidence from former employees.

A 28-year-old Romanian man was also arrested in Someren on suspicion of collaborating with Janssen.

The local mayor, Alfred Veltman, said at the time: “It was more like a form of slavery than a modern business.”

Source: NRC: Uitbuitende aspergeteelster krijgt 2 jaar cel
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