Target: Baroness D’Souza, Lord Speaker of The House of Lords (UK)
Goal: Stop modern-day slavery and abuse of domestic workers.
The United Kingdom’s Modern Slavery Bill, which denies domestic workers the right to change employers, or face deportation, violates basic human rights. Working and oftentimes living in their employer’s homes, domestic workers are among the most vulnerable wage earners in the United Kingdom, where they face abuse and exploitation for years at the hands of callous employers.
Currently, the United Kingdom has supported a “tied visa” system, which forces migrant workers to stay with abusive employers, or risk becoming undocumented if they choose to leave. According to a Human Rights Watch report, every year, upwards of 15,000 migrant workers, many of them women from Asia and Africa, travel to the UK with their employers to be cleaners, drivers, gardeners, nannies, cooks, and caretakers of ailing family members or elderly parents. The report revealed that the UK’s inept Modern Slavery Bill has perpetuated abuses such as the confiscation of passports, confinement to their employer’s home, verbal and psychological abuse, and the withholding of wages, however meager they may be.
Some common struggles of domestic workers include physical abuse, lack of access to healthcare, starvation, inadequate living conditions and being denied the opportunity to speak to their family members. Some employers have even been accused of providing domestic workers with documents rife with false information about compensation, time off, hours and even responsibilities.
So far, the Human Rights Watch and Kalayaan, a charity that fights for the rights of domestic and migrant workers in the UK, have reported that tying domestic migrant workers to abusive employers bolsters forced labor and until safeguards are in place, domestic workers will continue to be treated inadequately.
The House of Lords, the UK’s highest chamber of parliament, should amend the Modern Slavery Bill that would free countless domestic migrant workers from the clutches of abusive employers and give them the right to seek employment with employers that are fair and appreciative of their hard work.
Dear Lord Speaker Baroness D’Souza,
It has recently come to my attention that the United Kingdom has enforced a frankly archaic legislation, also known as the Modern Slavery Bill, which keeps migrant domestic workers from leaving abusive employers. The entire country’s “tied visa” system is flawed and perpetuates unjust behavior by callous employers who seek to control domestic workers and violate their basic human rights.
Domestic workers are among the most vulnerable wage workers in the UK. Many of them travel from great distances to be nannies, caretakers, drivers, gardeners, and cooks for their employers and their employers’ families. Some domestic workers are treated like they are simply another member of the family, with the same privileges and respect as anyone else. However, other employers have openly taken advantage of their domestic workers by withholding wages, or not paying them at all, feeding their workers scraps from the dinner table, denying workers the right to contact their family members, and even forcing their workers to sleep in storage rooms, makeshift basements or couches.
The simple solution to this problem would be to amend the bill so that domestic workers experiencing abuse can escape with their visas intact. It is unfair to force mistreated migrant workers to stay with their heartless employers, and those that do escape need to be able to access support and redress.
I urge you to get rid of this counterproductive legislation, which has been in place for far too long, and stop the perpetuation of this abusive cycle.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Sharon Mollerus via Flickr