Unite Union Press Release:
Migrant domestic workers will be gathering at Old Palace Yard, Westminster this Sunday (15 June) to demonstrate against the government’s changes to the domestic workers visa.
Despite strong opposition from many individuals, organisations, charities and unions, the government, in April 2012, abolished the rights of domestic workers to change employer once they are in the UK.
Under the Tied Domestic Worker visa, implemented by this government, domestic workers entering the UK have become modern slaves.
They are ‘tied’ to the one employer (who brings them here) making them much more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse and preventing enforcement of the employment rights they are supposed to be entitled to.
This effectively traps them with that employer, and they will have to return either to their country or that of their employer within six months.
There is a real danger that domestic workers are now driven underground as many employers enslave, abuse and exploit them more because the current system allows them to do so.
Two years on, thousands of migrant domestic workers have found themselves in this situation of being ‘tied’ to their employer, with no redress if they are abused and exploited and living with the added fear of deportation if they speak out.
These workers, some of the most vulnerable workers in our society, are enraged that after decades of campaigning to get the same rights and privileges we all enjoy, this government demolished their achievement by replacing Overseas Domestic Worker visa with the Tied Domestic Worker visa.
Diana Holland, Unite assistant general secretary, said: “It had taken many years of campaigning to get some of the most vulnerable workers in our society the same rights and privileges that everyone should be able to count on, but this government has demolished these vital achievements.
“Justice for migrant domestic workers cannot be swept under the carpet by this government. They have reintroduced modern day slavery and Unite and others are absolutely committed to ending it and reinstating the Overseas Domestic Worker Visa.”
Marissa Begonia, Justice 4 Domestic Workers chair, said: “The trauma of repetitive abuse of migrant domestic workers on the Tied Domestic Worker visa with no access to justice is inhuman. For this government to facilitate and tolerate slavery in the UK is an unforgivable crime.
“This government must end the abuse, exploitation and slavery of the already vulnerable migrant domestic workers. It’s time to restore domestic workers’ rights.”
Kate Roberts, Kalayaan community advocate, said: “Given this government’s stated commitment to combating slavery in the UK we are dismayed at its rejection of the important recommendations of the Joint Committee for the draft Modern Slavery Bill to reinstate the original visa and corresponding rights.
“Two years since domestic workers were tied to their employers the evidence is clear; that these workers are far more likely to be abused and enslaved than those who are not tied and are effectively imprisoned in these conditions by the current immigration rules.
“With this knowledge it is unforgivable to maintain the tied visa which must be replaced urgently with the original Overseas Domestic Worker visa, a system proven to work well and to allow migrant domestic workers a chance for justice.”
> And who’d like to bet against this government attempting to extend these kind of conditions to the rest of the workforce at some stage ?
Source – Welfare News Service, 13 June 2013
Unite Union Press Release:
The opposition of nearly 350 charities to the government’s new ‘workfare’ programme has ‘holed the scheme below the waterline’, Unite, the country’s largest union, said today (Thursday 5 June).
Unite has welcomed the news that 345 voluntary sector organisations, including household names such as Shelter, Crisis, Scope and Oxfam, have pledged not to take part in the Community Work Placements (CWP) programme.
This week was meant to be the deadline for organisations to start the new mandatory CWPs which require that jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) claimants do six months work placement – or risk losing their benefits.
Unite, which has 60,000 members in the voluntary sector, has branded the scheme as “nothing more than forced unpaid labour.”
Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “The mounting opposition from the not for profit sector has holed one of Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship projects below the waterline. More waves of opposition will sink this scheme once-and-for all.
“This obscene programme is nothing more than forced unpaid labour.
“Unite welcomes the fact that so many charities have given this scheme the thumbs down as they can see that it is grossly unfair and a perversion of the true ethos of volunteering.
“Questions have to be asked about the government’s slavish reliance on the controversial private sector contractors, such as G4S, to implement the CWP programme.
“It was G4S and its security shambles that was the only blot on the London Olympics two years ago.
“We are against this scheme wherever Duncan Smith wants to impose it – in the private sector, local government and in the voluntary sector.
“It is outrageous that ministers are trying to stigmatise job seekers by making them work for nothing, otherwise they will have their benefits clawed back.
“What the long queues of the unemployed need are proper jobs with decent pay and a strong structure of apprenticeships for young people to give them a sustainable employment future.”
Unite is opposing workfare in local government and will be raising it as an industrial issue with local authorities which do not sign the pledge. So far, 13 local councils have signed up not to implement any workfare programmes – and more are actively considering doing so.
With so many council cuts, Unite is determined that workfare placements are not used to replace paid jobs.
Unite’s growing community section will be on hand to support unemployed people forced onto workfare schemes.
> This last paragraph looks interesting….
Source – Welfare News Service, 05 June 2014
Unite union has teamed up with Durham Miners’ Association (DMA) to set up a “community hub” centre at the Miners’ Hall in Red Hill, Durham, which they say will become a resource for those most in need of help to deal with cuts, changes in benefits such as the bedroom tax and the tests carried out by ATOS, the company contracted by the Government to carry out the fitness-to-work assessments.
It will also launch a Benefit Buddying scheme, offering peer-to-peer support for those who are most vulnerable and are facing difficulties (which sounds like it might be a good idea), and campaign for welfare rights.
The centre will open two days (Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10:00 – 15:00) with the volunteers also offering support, help to learn new skills and guidance as people search for work.
The official launch is on Friday, November 15, at 2pm.
Dave Hopper, general secretary of the DMA, said: “We have opened the community support centre in partnership with Unite in a response to the vicious attacks on the benefits system brought in by the Con-Dem Government.
“The last Conservative Government decimated our coal industry, now this Government is making the people of the North East suffer all over again.”