Target: U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May
Goal: Reverse law criminalizing the abandonment of abusive employment
Migrant workers in the U.K. are finding themselves in modern day slavery thanks to an April 2012 bill tying their work visa to their employer, removing their freedom to change jobs. These workers are often employed as maids in private residences with no supervision of work conditions. If they attempt to flee or switch jobs, they become illegal migrants in the country and are subject to deportation as outlined in the bill.
In March 2014, Human Rights Watch released a report detailing the mistreatment of migrant house workers with tied visas, which includes forced labor, food deprivation and captivity.
In April 2014, a parliamentary committee sought to reverse the bill and restore the workers’ rights, saying the current law “institutionalizes their abuse.” The Modern Slavery Bill presented by Home Secretary Theresa May this June, however, makes no attempt to reverse the tied visa.
Kalayaan, a U.K. charity working with migrant domestic workers insists that the safeguards to protect employees with tied visas fail them more often than not, and that migrants without tied visas are less likely to suffer abuse from employers. Since the visa laws effectively prevent migrants from leaving their jobs, just walking into a police station to report abuse could lead to deportation.
Urge Home Secretary Theresa May to abandon the tied visa program and protect migrant workers from modern slavery, as the name of her proposed bill would suggest.
Dear Home Secretary Theresa May,
You recently presented a Modern Slavery Bill to parliament, which would protect workers from abuse, but failed to reverse the laws on the tied visa. The policy leads to the abuse of migrant workers in the U.K. A parliamentary committee has said the law not only fails to safeguard workers, but “institutionalises their abuse.”
The U.K. charity, Kalayaan, which helps migrant domestic workers, says that those workers with tied visas are more likely to suffer abuse than those with the opportunity to switch jobs. Human Rights Watch has documented the abuse of workers by their employers, including forced labor, deprivation of food and some workers have been locked in the house while the employer was out.
It seems unlikely that a migrant worker who has illegally left an abusive work place would go to the police station and face possible deportation in order to report the abuse, yet that is a real concern for these migrants under the current visa law.
I urge you to amend the Modern Slavery Bill to include a change to current visa policies and allow migrant workers to change employers without losing their visas.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: A P Monblat via Wikimedia Commons