Sunday, March 30, 2014

Visa rules 'license slavery'

 As previously blogged by SOYMB, the government is "licensing modern slavery" with its visa rules for domestic workers, campaigners say. Since April 2012 they have been tied to one employer upon entering the UK - meaning they cannot move jobs.

Charities say the rules must be reversed as they allow abusive employers to demand extremely long hours, and withhold pay and food. About 15,000 domestic workers accompany foreign employers to the UK each year. But since 2012 they have been unable to renew their visas or change employer if things go wrong.

 Human Rights Watch said it had found serious abuses of migrant workers by foreign employers in the UK."We have documented the forced labour of domestic workers; they have been made to work extremely long hours without breaks or days off, paid very little or not at all, psychologically abused and not provided with food," said Izza Leghtas, the author of a report shown to the BBC. "The majority of those under the tied visa had their passport withheld by their employer."

Kate Roberts, a community advocate for London-based charity Kalayaan, which helps migrant domestic workers, said: "The visa has definitely resulted in employers exercising more control over workers. We believe it facilitates and institutionalises the domestic servitude of workers."
The charity said it had evidence that migrant workers were facing greater levels of abuse in the two years since the rules changed.

"Alia", a Fiipina,  who came to the UK as a maid with her Arab employers. She said her passport was taken from her, she was made to eat scraps of food and sleep in a cupboard.
"They promised me they were going to pay me more, but they didn't pay me. I started in morning at 06.00 until midnight. I didn't have any break and they never let me go out," she said. "I feel I am a slave, they told me you have no right to be questioning us because you are just a housemaid," she recalled.

Alia eventually managed to escape, but by leaving her abusive employer she breached immigration rules and is now an illegal migrant. Her only option is deportation.

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