GMB members are today protesting outside Next in Yorkshire after reports the company offered Christmas jobs to Polish workers before they were advertised in Britain.

Next

 

The protest at South Elmsall, West Yorkshire WF9 2TX coincides with the national tour by Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott calling on the company to pay enough hours of work for people to live on and as a first step towards £10 per hour living wage pay £7.85 per hour and £9.20 per hour in London.

GMB general secretary Paul Kenny said: “This is a protest against gross abuse of UK and migrant workers by NEXT. Sadly this abuse is not unique. All over Europe there are labour agencies exploiting posted workers on a massive scale. Internal EU wide union estimates show that approximately one million workers are exploited as posted workers annually.

“We have to face up to the brutal fact that whatever the European vision was on integration, harmony, economic advancement and political stability, what we currently have isn’t it.

“The free movement of labour and the single market were to be balanced by the social charter where all the people of Europe would live in freedom and with those in the poorer economies, benefitting from the harmonisation of standards across all member states. There were to be standards on workers protection, TUPE, excessive hours, health & safety, information and consultation and so many others were meant to keep labour exploitation in check.

“That dream has been chipped away at for years. Right wing governments and employer have engineered massive change in the direction of the EU vision. Judgements in the European Courts like Viking and Laval were the green light to massive assaults on organised labour across Europe, but especially in the UK.

“From Lindsey Oil refinery to food production we have seen workers recruited in certain member states by agencies and exploited. They were shipped in “literally” in order to undermine the terms and conditions of existing workers on those contracts. Both sets of workers have been let down by UK Government, the EU Commission and the European Court.

“On exploitation – don’t blame the exploited; damn those who exploit. This has been repeated up and down the country over recent years. And that is part of the discontent that extreme political parties turn into xenophobic rhetoric to win votes.

“Look past the simplistic tag and face the challenge of exploitation. Let’s reach out to those migrant workers not attack them, but organise and protect them.”


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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