Migrant workers exploited on ‘massive scale’

Britain’s
bosses are exploiting migrant workers on a ‘massive scale’, the TUC claims.

The
union, in a report released today, said a lack of legal protection for the
thousands of migrant workers is giving the green light to unscrupulous gangs,
agencies and employers to exploit them.

The
report, ‘Overworked, underpaid, and over here’, expresses concern that while
overseas workers are toiling for long hours, often for very little pay, and
housed in appalling conditions, in almost every case, the employers taking
advantage of their vulnerability and poor command of English escape punishment.

It
calls on the UK Government to help improve the conditions of migrant workers by
signing the UN Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families.

The
TUC report highlights some of the difficulties faced by migrant workers – for
example, while it might be an offence for an employer not to provide paid
holidays to a worker here on a work permit, to make a complaint, the worker
must go to a tribunal. If they lose their job as a result of raising the issue,
they will have lost their right to remain in the UK, and will be unable to
pursue their case.

TUC
general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Popular perceptions that the UK is
home to thousands of migrant workers, who plan to stay long term, and take the
jobs of UK workers are simply wrong. The reality is that most migrant workers
only stay for short periods, and their precarious legal status means many end
up working incredibly long hours for not much pay, in jobs that UK workers
wouldn’t want to do.

"The
challenge for unions is to find ways of recruiting migrant workers, offering
them support and guidance so they become less exploitable and more aware of
their rights.’

By Quentin Reade

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