TUC teams up with Polish unions to combat exploitation of migrant workers

The TUC has signed an agreement with two Polish trade unions to help put an end to “ruthless exploitation” of migrant workers.

Polish trade unions Solidarnosc and OPZZ yesterday signed a deal with the TUC to help and support Polish workers in the UK. The protocol will strengthen the ties between the trade unions and commits all parties to encouraging citizens of both countries to join a union in the country in which they are working.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Polish workers play a vital and often unsung role both in boosting the UK economy and contributing to our rich diversity. Sadly, many Polish workers who come to the UK without enough knowledge of employment law or a trade union to support them can find themselves ruthlessly exploited by employers.”

The numbers of east European immigrants approved to work in UK fell from 227,875 in 2006 to 206,905 in 2007. While Poles make up two-thirds of the newcomers, they are understood to be returning home, lured by higher salaries, job shortages in the UK and the fall in the value of the pound.

But Barber said there was still work to be done to ensure migrant workers know their rights.

“[This] agreement will help us to work with our Polish colleagues to help migrant workers know their rights so they can earn a fair wage and make a contribution to the UK economy,” he said.

The protocol also recognises that the TUC and Solidarnosc have already introduced a Polish language website and booklet guide to working in the UK.

Earlier this year the TUC offered workplace rights training to workers in some London boroughs.

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