A ROMANIAN factory worker opened up to the Unite conference yesterday to reveal how he was working more than 30 hours unpaid overtime a week before he joined the union.
Andrei Dudau worked 16-hour shifts six days a week during busy periods when he began work at the Dorset food factory in 2004.
He and 100 other Romanians that were handed temporary contracts at the same time earned only the minimum wage for backbreaking work and could be deported at the whim of the bosses.
But after joining Unite in 2007, Mr Dudau has not only doubled his wage but won proper contracts for hundreds more migrant workers.
“When I joined my company 10 years ago I was afraid to join the union,” he told delegates.
“In Romania we don’t have private companies that have unions — only in the public sector.
“The moment you want to join the union you’re dismissed straight away. When I came here, I did a lot of overtime without any pay because I did not know my rights.”
The Unite shop steward has since ended zero-hours contracts at his company — winning colleagues sick pay, holiday pay and a shift allowance for the first time.
Unite agricultural workers’ rep Steve Leneic warned though many more migrant workers still face “modern-day slavery” in Britain.
“Workers in meat factories or harvesting and packing fruit in the fields work long days in appalling conditions with just minutes for break.
“And they’re living in crowded, unsanitary and overpriced accommodation. All for the national minimum wage at best.”
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