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UK: Govt. schemes designed to bring in migrant workers post-Brexit could increase exploitation, say charities

Author: Emma Wallis, Info Migrants, Published on: 25 March 2019

"Could post-Brexit Britain increase the risk of modern slavery in the UK?", 20 March 2019

The British government has proposed two new temporary migration programs (TMP) schemes to combat the deficit that the disappearance of an easy supply of EU members could eventually leave. The first is aimed at “migrants from non-European Union nations to work on Britain’s farms for six months” [...] and another is for workers from ‘low-risk’ [...] countries to stay for a year...

The charity FLEX reviewed the schemes in a report published in March 2019 and found that these temporary migration programs could be vulnerable to abuse and could lead to the exploitation of workers, including “forced labor and debt bondage.” 

Caroline Robinson, director of FLEX told Thompson Reuters “There is a clear contradiction between Britain’s efforts to tackle modern slavery and its rush to bring in workers post-Brexit...” 

Temporary workers will not have any access to the social welfare enjoyed by other UK resident workers... If they did [...] leave, they risk being drawn into the illegal economy or ending up homeless, which then increases their risk of being trafficked... Their short stays and the impossibility of immediate return limits them from acquiring local knowledge of labor law for instance and “localized support such as trade union membership” ...

FLEX points out that workers will be expected to pay visa fees and flights to get to the UK to work for their temporary contracts...

FLEX advocates making sure that all workers rights are protected...

They also asked that the UK government “should establish bilateral labor agreements with all sending countries in which the protection of workers’ rights is embedded;” and that workers must be free to change employers and be offered “reasonable terms.” Wages and conditions should be established by a standard-setting board including worker representation...

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