Home secretary David Blunkett has spoken out in favour of ID cards as a part of a strategy to protect migrant workers from exploitation at the hands of unscrupulous employers.
He was speaking at a conference on trade unions and migrant workers organised by the TUC, which coincided with the publication of the report Propping Up Rural and Small Town Britain, a study of migrant workers from the new EU member states from Eastern Europe.
The study shows that migrant workers are heading to rural areas in contrast to previous trends towards working in urban areas. Only 23 per cent of migrant workers are currently to be found in London, compared to the 2000 Labour Force Survey figures of 43 per cent.
Blunkett outlined how the introduction of ID cards would make it easier for the Government and trade unions to help migrant workers fight exploitation and to ensure that health and safety standards and minimum wage requirements were met. The study had highlighted cases where simply having a passport was not enough to avoid discrimination.
A number of cases of exploitation by employment agencies were also highlighted. Blunkett said that being able to prove who you are was the basis of getting information and advice.