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					MIGRANT WORKERS –ESOL COMMITTEE OF ENQUIRY

Who are Migrant workers?
 Academic definition: those who come to the UK for work and have been here
for less than 5 years
Most therefore will come with a job to go to or with the intention of finding one
quickly

Need to be clear re our terminology

Migrants: come to work from any part of the world. Will have come via a range of
arrangements e.g work permit holders, EU nationals, students, seasonal
agricultural workers, sector-based schemes, working holidaymakers. Workers who
are here illegally, either because of illegal entry or their situation has changed, so
their original documentation is no longer valid, are described as „undocumented‟.
Migrant workers are from across the spectrum, from highly paid and skilled doctors
to poorly paid unskilled workers.
Immigrants: come to settle and have tended to come from those countries where
UK had a colonial relationship
Refugees: have fled their country due to a well-founded fear of persecution and
are classified as asylum seekers until they settled refugee status.

HOWEVER an individual could at over time move across categories.

What are some of the issues facing migrant workers?

      Difficulties with permits and re-accreditation, getting NI number. ID
       problems lead to difficulties setting up bank accounts. Changing employers

      Wages and conditions- unscrupulous agencies, gangmasters. Deductions
       from wages e.g rent of £90 pw for mattress in a house, up to £30 per day
       off for sickness, bank/admin charges levied for issuing cheques/cash,
       repayments of “loans” for arranging job and travel to UK. 10 people in a
       house each paying £10 per week to agency for cleaning the property.
       Deduction for office cleaning of agency premises! Deductions being made
       for NI without the NI number and there can be uncertainty over whether
       taxes and NI deducted are going where they should. Hours worked can be
       under calculated. Pay can be below the minimum wage or sometimes not
       paid at all. They may have signed a contract in their own language, which
       bears no relation to the contract they are then asked to sign in English.


      Fitting into the community - Lack of information on local services/agencies
       e.g health, schools, and police. Difficulties accessing health provision

      Separation from families. Language issues which can result in lack of
       understanding information on rights, conditions, health and safety and
       everyday misunderstandings
      Racism – Illogical apprehension and fear of migrant workers from local
       population/open racism

      Job security – In Construction there are instances of migrants being taken
       on for a week‟s trial and then let go after a week with no pay. Issues do
       arise from standing up for rights – leading to beatings, eviction from
       accommodation and loss of job. Migrant workers often find themselves
       being treated as self-employed, which limits their rights in the workplace.

      Social problems e.g poor housing, multiple occupancy – 30/40 to a house
       with rents up to £100 per week each.

      Validating their overseas work experience/quals

      Transient nature of employment

      Agencies can control all stages of the employment process from recruiting
       to the job, providing expensive transport, which needs to be re-paid and
       expensive accommodation. If you leave the accommodation you can lose
       your job.


What are the challenges for unions?
      Varying awareness/experience of TUs amongst migrant workers
      Communication/Language barriers
      Tackling racism/challenging myths
      Meeting learning needs
      Enabling migrant workers to be aware of their rights
      Recruiting and organising
      Balancing the issues – recruitment from overseas being used by an
       employer to provide an alternative to providing training or attractive pay and
       conditions versus support for those who due to economic conditions in own
       country have been forced into this vulnerable position.

Learning needs of migrant workers
A range of needs and interests.

Not all migrant workers need ESOL – some professions will require applicants to
pass an English language exam before acceptance. However once in work some
may choose to develop higher English language levels to develop their career.

Many migrant workers come with excellent English language skills and often
conversant in several languages

Some will get involved in acting as unofficial interpreters for their colleagues,
police, hospitals and other local services. There could be an interest in gaining
appropriate qualifications in Interpreting. In parts of the country where there has
not historically been a history of immigration, local agencies have not previously
had need for interpreters. Qualified interpreters will be in demand in these areas
and this may offer alternative employment for some, enabling them to make better
use of their language skills.

Many migrant workers have higher-level qualifications from overseas, which they
are not using in their current job. Some may seek recognition of their qualifications
to improve their employment situation. There are agencies that can provide
information on equivalence of qualifications.

For many better knowledge of English language would greatly improve their
experience by reducing their vulnerability.

Issues re ESOL provision
Status - as is also the case for other ESOL learners, exact status details will
determine funding availability. This could potentially be a divisive issue in a
workplace and needs handling cautiously. We have some examples of employers
who are prepared to pay the fees of a small number of ineligible learners, so that
all the workforce might benefit.

Their experiences, associated with their status e.g unscrupulous agencies and
gangmasters, difficulties over permits/re-accreditation, separation from family,
transient nature of employment, lack of understanding of UK systems/rights etc,
poor wages and conditions, racism and more, put many migrant workers in a
vulnerable position and this will impact on the learning situation.


ESOL in rural areas - many migrant workers are in rural areas and we must note
that the most experienced ESOL providers have been historically, in the cities.
Local providers in rural areas are finding this is a new area of work for them. There
is a capacity issue here e.g at present we are struggling to find enough ESOL
provision in Northants and Lincolnshire to meet current demand.

Class numbers: some providers are setting this quite high at 12-15 which is not
best practice for beginner + levels. Also workplace learning groupings often result
in a mixed level group – not always the ideal learning situation to make the fastest
progress.

Unions setting up workplace ESOL provision also find themselves with demand
from families and local communities.



Recent TUC initiatives have included
ESOL: a new language for unions – short promotional DVD aimed at unions.
Call 0151 236 7678 for a copy

‘Your health, your safety: a guide for workers’
Concern that migrant workers could be missing out on crucial health and safety
training because their employers are not providing safety material in any language
other than English has prompted the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the
TUC to publish a new safety guide translated into 19 different languages.

„Working in the UK: Your Rights’ The TUC has produced a leaflet for people
coming to work in the UK giving them information about their legal rights to work in
this country. The leaflet is available in some of the new EU accession state
languages as well as English and other EU languages. Download 11 language
versions from www.tuc.org.uk


'Selective admission: Making migration work for Britain’, the TUC response to
the Home Office consultation document. Jan 06

The TUC believes that a managed migration system, as well as meeting economic
and labour market needs, should ensure equal rights for people at work whether
they are indigenous or migrant workers. We therefore argue in this submission for
a right-based approach that separates the right of residence and the right to work
from a specific employment contract. We believe that migrant workers make a
major contribution to the economic and cultural life of Great Britain, but that those
contributions are not the only valid reason for migration. We understand the need
for an objective system such as a points system for determining whether people
are allowed to enter Britain to work, in the interests both of the migrant workers
and the host community, and we believe that unions and employers have roles to
play in policy formulation which need to be formally recognised. Britain needs to
meet its international obligations to migrant workers, and its moral obligations to
people vulnerable to exploitation and developing countries whose need for skilled
labour is greater even than Britain's.

Managed Migration: Working For Britain - A Joint Statement From The Home
Office, CBI and TUC
The Home Office, CBI and TUC have today issued a joint commitment to support
managed migration in the interests of the UK economy. The statement says: The
United Kingdom has a proud tradition of welcoming newcomers to its shores. Now
more than ever, we need the skills and enthusiasm of people from around the
world who have chosen to make their homes here and to contribute to our
economy and society. To help them to do that, the country needs to invest wisely
in their potential within the context of a migration system that is managed in the
national interest‟.

In the statement, the Government made a commitment to:
     Provide support for the teaching of English to ensure migrants are able to
       fully contribute to the life of the country;
The CBI made a commitment to:
    Work with CBI members and Government to encourage the provision of
     English language teaching for those who need it.

September 2005

Gangmaster Licensing Scheme

In its submission to the Government‟s consultation on the proposed regulations for
the licensing of gangmasters - due to come into force next year - the TUC says it
is concerned that ministers intend to limit the scheme to those agencies and
individuals providing staff to work in abattoirs and fruit and vegetable picking and
packing. Any move to limit the licensing scheme to the primary processing sector
will open up a loophole ripe for exploiting by unscrupulous gangmasters keen on
getting around the law. The TUC would like to see all agencies and gangmasters
providing manpower for secondary processing in the UK to also be covered by the
new regulations. This would mean that apart from agencies supplying abattoirs
and farmers, gangmasters providing temporary labour to firms involved in
secondary processing industries such as the making of snacks and crisps, meat
pies and sausages, as well as bread and cakes would also be covered. June 05

„Forced Labour and Migration to the UK’ – a report by COMPAS (Centre on
Migration, Policy and Society, Oxford University) and TUC
Feb 05

Developing policy
Work is currently underway to formulate TUC response to ESOL funding issues
i.e. re the 3-year rule and employer contributions.


Useful websites
www.tuc.org.uk/international - see Migration
www.worksmart.org.uk
www.learningservices.org.uk


Snapshot across the Midlands
GMB – Reaching out to new communities

The GMB, in partnership with Lincolnshire & Rutland Learning & Skills Council,
TUC, Prospects (adult Information advice + Guidance) and Grantham College set
up a project to provide ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) and
appropriate language skills to members of the new communities and develop
people to a level for entering the workforce. The project provides ESOL/language
skills, basic learning skills, guidance, advice and support to communities, in
particular Portuguese and Eastern European migrant workers from the new
European community who are seeking residence and job opportunities.

Grantham and surrounding villages have seen a change in the make up of the
workforce and community. There is a shortage of traditional skills/employees
within the food industry and this project works towards addressing this shortfall.
The new communities need to obtain new skills which will enable them to fully
integrate and contribute to their new community. Language is a key barrier to this
happening, and this project aims to provide a safe, secure and welcoming
environment for learning.

The targets for their initial project were to enrol 50 learners onto ESOL courses in
partnership with Grantham College and to give advice and guidance to a further
150 people. This was to increase employability and provide excellent community
cohesion and co-operation, giving new community members good quality
opportunities to fulfil their potential. The project exceeded expectations.

GMB Community Branch office is in a central location and set up a learning
helpline. The project is staffed by 2 migrant workers – from Lithuania and Poland
and managed by a GMB Officer. Funded from LSC TU Fund money negotiated by
TUC LS and IAG for „IA Episodes‟ as branch has matrix standard for delivery of IA

Migrant workers are offered interviews in the office and over the phone. Over a
recent 4 month period they have enabled 58 people access learning opportunities,
mainly ESOL and provided 72 IAG interviews, building on similar consistent
success over the past year or more. They have seen many more regarding a
range of advice but for IAG funding purposes only signposting to learning counts.

Obviously the enquiries cover all the issues and the GMB have taken on problem
solving on a big scale with calls from out of the region. These have included a
range of issues, including instances of domestic violence referred to women‟s aid.

Knowledge of the value of this support has spread fast amongst migrant worker
communities and GMB Grantham are now extending the project beyond the area
to Northamptonshire. A recent success was signing up 135 migrant workers at
Butlins for learning and as members all in one day. It is too early to say how the
local provider is coping.

The commitment and time the GMB have put into this has brought them new
members. The branch is trying to change the culture of their organising. The 2
project workers have been visiting sites to explain the issues to GMB reps and this
has proved positive in enabling reps to relate to migrant workers on site. Now the
GMB is actively recruiting migrant workers onto GMB training.

Christian Salvesen, Lutterworth USDAW
A mixed workforce, including migrant workers. The need for ESOL instigated a
project which offers a range of Sfl across the workforce. There were difficulties
setting up ESOL provision. Some workers were ineligible but even though the
employer volunteered to pay for them, the college didn‟t want to go ahead as they
wanted 10-12 in a group and employer only able to release smaller numbers at a
time. Employer then decided to employ their own tutor but hit issues re quals and
tests. Now arrangements have been made with a different provider.

Polish Club, Birmingham
TUC are working with the Polish Club, a longstanding community centre in
Birmingham to help them develop capacity to advise the migrant workers who are
finding their way to them – up to 50 each week with a range of issues. They have
arrived often with no accommodation, dropped off on the approaches to the city
and left to find their own way to a job which often doesn‟t materialise. The job
agencies they have come with are often linked to organised crime inc tobacco
smuggling and prostitution. The project is building Club staff and volunteer
capacity by getting them onto welfare rights training with the Unemployed Workers
Centre in Birmingham and on an Employment law course, bringing in unions to
share expertise at drop–in sessions.


Hereford -150 African, Portuguese and workers from the Baltic States are
employed at a poultry products company where TGWU have recognition. TGWU
have an agreement with the company and the agency to set a minimum standard
when employing migrant workers, within accepted employment practices. After
employment of 6 weeks they are transferred from agency to company payroll.
Union learning representatives are to be trained.

Mary Alys
TUC Learning Services Co-ordinator Midlands Region

				
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