Thousands of Polish and Lithuanian workers are being exploited at work in the UK, a new report commissioned by the TUC reveals.
The study Migrant Workers’ Challenges and Opportunities to Trade Unions, by the Centre of Migration, Policy and Society, a research unit based at Oxford University, found that most had insecure and poorly paid employment, with more than half of the 508 workers surveyed encountering problems at work.
A quarter of the employees in the study reported having no written contract, with the same number having had problems with salary payment – including not being paid for hours worked, discrepancies between pay and payslips, unauthorised deductions, and errors in pay calculation.
The study also revealed that migration had re-introduced the ‘tied cottage’ – where employers provide accommodation to staff at a cost.
Nearly a third of the workers in the report were living in accommodation provided by their employer, and experienced excessive hours (due to their employment being linked to where they lived) and poor living conditions as a result.
Since 2004, when 10 new states joined the EU, more than 475,000 Poles and Lithuanians have come to work in the UK.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Everyone should be treated fairly and with dignity and respect at work, wherever they come from. Unions are working hard to recruit migrant workers to protect them from rogue employers who seek to deny their workers a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay.”
The TUC is also publishing Living and Working in the UK: Your Rights, a guide that provides advice and tips for new arrivals on living in the UK, and issues that might cause problems at work.