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31/03/2014 - Solidarity back calls for action on exploitation of cheap foreign labour

constructionThe Solidarity Union has welcomed the findings of a new report calling for the Gangmaster Licensing Authority (GLA) to be extended to the construction industry. The Union says that casualised foreign labour is a problem in the construction sector where vulnerable workers are exploited and British workers undercut.

The report Preventing Trafficking for Labour Exploitation written by Caroline Robinson for Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX) examines what is needed to prevent workers being trafficked for work in Britain. It calls for high risk labour sectors such as construction, care, cleaning and hospitality to be regulated by extending the remit of the GLA to cover these areas in order to prevent abuses and exploitation of workers.

The report also recommends that in order to reduce human trafficking that it is essential that the GLA must not be diverted from its primary function of licence monitoring and that the reduction in its powers and authority by the ConDem government must be reversed. It also argues that cases of labour exploitation should be prosecuted and punished in a manner commensurate with the severity of the exploitation. The report further calls on a change of the law so that migrant workers are entitled to employment rights regardless of their immigration status.

Pat Harrington, general secretray of Solidarity, commented:

"This report recognises that foreign labour is being exploited by unscrupulous bosses in a number of labour sectors. If we can target those companies abusing people in this way and suppressing wage rates it will benefit everyone. The most controversial suggestion is extending employment rights regardless of immigration status but I support this because it takes away the incentive for bosses to employ illegal immigrants because they are vulnerable and easily bullied. Immigration status should be treated as a separate matter. Our Union wants action against bosses trying to use non-unionised and vulnerable foreign workers to undercut our wages. This report has good suggestions and must be implemented."