There are an estimated 794,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in Russia (GSI 2018). Forced labour remains the predominant form of human trafficking in the country. Labour trafficking has been reported in the construction, manufacturing, logging, textile, and maritime industries, as well as in sawmills, agriculture, sheep farms, grocery and retail shops, restaurants, waste sorting, street sweeping, domestic service, and forced begging. Many migrant workers experience exploitative labour conditions characteristic of trafficking cases, such as withholding of identity documents, non-payment for services rendered, physical abuse, lack of safety measures, or extremely poor living conditions.
Vadim*, a 38-year old man from Belarus travelled to Russia for work. He paid a recruiter and agreed to work as a builder for three years. Half of his salary is being kept by his employer until the end of his contract and he is unable to leave.
I have higher education and worked as a teacher on labour issues. I’m married, with no children. I lived well but had no home of my own. Recently I hadn’t worked using my education, I did some decoration work. I had difficulties getting work and had few contracts. Because I wanted my own home, I came to Russia in 2002, together with my wife. She is diabetic. I plan to spend two more years here. I came to the North Caucasus region, as some relatives live here. With the help of an intermediary at a cost of 5’000 Roubles I found work. I agreed to work for an employer for three years. If I change the place of work, I will lose 50 per cent of my earnings, which is being kept by the employer until the end of the contract. But this clause was not agreed upon before. My documents have not been withdrawn. I earn about 4’000 [Roubles]. Another 4’000 is kept by the employer as a guarantee that the contract will not be violated. I receive money in cash, which isn’t registered and is sometimes delayed. The work is unhealthy (my eyes become inflamed from the ceiling dust), we work without individual [social] protection, as it would be an additional expense. Sick periods are not paid, so I go to work while ill. At any moment I might be called to work. My employer is an Armenian. Our relations are not very good. I am anxious about the 50 per cent that the employer is keeping, they might not give me money back at the end of my contract.
Narrative credit to International Labour Organization
Original narrative found in report ‘Forced Labour in the Russian Federation Today: Irregular Migration and Trafficking in Human Beings’