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Migrant workers are being exploited by bosses due to vulnerabilities, Unite warns at launch of new branch

MIGRANT workers are being exploited by bosses due to their vulnerable situations, Unite has warned as it launched a new branch.

The union kicked off its migrant food retail and services branch on Wednesday evening in north London.

Speaking at the event, branch secretary Arif Bektas said that most workplaces in the supermarket, wholesale, restaurant and delivery sectors are giving migrant workers less than the minimum wage of £9.50.

Mr Bektas said: “Bosses are also exploiting migrant workers who do not have legal status to work but are forced to find alternatives due to the high cost of living and having limited support.

“For example, local news ads say ‘Looking for Ankara Agreement individuals to work’ in waiting and other low-paid roles.

“What they are really saying is that ‘we are looking for low-wage workers.’

“We are organising in an area in which this destructive belief is wide-reaching, and people are — especially post lockdown — increasingly raising this issue with us.”

He said that the economic situation is pressuring migrant workers and that bosses are exploiting this pressure for their own gains, and using bullying, abuse and assault as tactics for this.

Mr Bektas said that long hours were also another reality.

He warned that migrant workers feel that holiday and sick pay are a luxury and are afraid of demanding it as a right due to concerns of being sacked.

“We have an obligation to organise migrant workers so that they can stand up for their rights and we must take steps going forward to do this,” he said.

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