Unite campaigns for government changes to be dropped

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Government changes to overseas domestic worker visas will turn the clock back and lead to workers being trapped with abusive employers, warned Unite.

The union called on the government to drop changes, announced by the Home Office, which reverses a consensus forged across the political parties in 1998. Since then migrant domestic workers could escape abusive employers by changing jobs or leaving their employment without the fear of being deported.

The change in government policy will lead to domestic workers suffering in silence with victims fearful of becoming ‘illegal’ and perpetrators going unpunished.

Migrant domestic workers are vulnerable to horrific abuse and exploitation. Research by the organisation Kalayaan shows that of the 326 people who registered with them in 2011, 54 per cent experienced psychological abuse, 18 per cent physical and 7 per cent sexual abuse. Exploitation is also rife according to the research, with 76% not allowed a day off, 53% working 16 hours-a-day and 60% paid under £50 per week.

Unite and its migrant domestic worker members will be joining forces with Justice 4 Domestic Workers, Kalayaan, the TUC, Anti-Slavery International and others to mount a vigorous campaign against the changes.

Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: “These changes will consign migrant domestic workers to a life of abuse at the hands of their employer and force them to suffer in silence with no hope of justice. We do not need to re-learn the lessons that prompted political parties to come together fourteen years ago and protect domestic workers.

“We urge the government to drop these changes and recognise that turning the clock back will only serve to trap vulnerable workers in abusive employment.”

 


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