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2020.07.20 17:27

Uzbek driver says appalling working conditions led to Covid-19 breakout in Kaunas

LRT.lt2020.07.20 17:27

Last week, 18 coronavirus cases at a transport firm in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second largest city, were reported. A former employee of Hegelmann Transporte told 15min.lt that the breakthrough could have been a result of poor working and living conditions at the company.

Most of those infected with the coronavirus at the transport company were drivers from Uzbekistan. The company employs mostly foreign workers, usually from Uzbekistan or Ukraine.

Read more: Coronavirus. Breakout at transport firm, 18 workers infected

One of the ex-employees, Sinikkhodja Aripkhodjaev, shared a video showing the living conditions of Hegelmann Transporte drivers in Kaunas.

The foreign workers of the firm were shown living in a hostel, with eight men cramped in a 15-square-metre room. Around 20 drivers shared one toilet.

According to Aripkhodjaev, such conditions could have been the reason for a rapid spread of the coronavirus inside Hegelmann Transporte.

“We thought that it [Lithuania] was Europe, but it’s not true,” he told 15min.lt.

The man also talked about other violations within the company. According to him, he has been working almost non-stop for the last nine months, often living and sleeping in his truck cabin.

“The employers do not provide workers with a hotel or other accommodation, when they are driving in Europe. The drivers are forced to live inside the cabins, which is a violation of the EU requirements for work standards,” said Aripkhodjaev.

The Uzbek driver also shared that he was fired from work and kicked out of his hostel room after he complained about poor working conditions to Lithuanian institutions.

Hegelmann Transporte said that the ex-employee was blackmailing the company, but refused to comment more.

After the breakout of the coronavirus cases at the transport company, the Lithuanian government decided on Thursday that all arrivals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) countries will have to self-isolate for two weeks and get tested for Covid-19.