Examination of Witnesses

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 12th February 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Rosa Crawford:

We have always said as a union movement that we stand for workers from all countries. We do not believe any workers should be working in degrading or exploitative conditions. That is why I say it is very important that the law allows workers from all countries, regardless of immigration status, to claim those employment rights.

Unfortunately, we have seen the deregulation of the labour market. In agriculture, the example we have been talking about, there used to be an Agricultural Wages Board that provided a floor level of conditions and pay in that sector. That was abolished under the coalition Government and Unite, the union that represents workers in the agricultural sector, has said since that has been abolished, there has been a proliferation of precarious contracts, illegal forms of contract, people in very exploitative conditions, people not receiving the pay they should, and people often not being paid the minimum wage in certain cases.

That form of labour market regulation, the Agricultural Wages Board, is just one example of how the removal of domestic employment protection results in more exploitation and an increase in the number of migrant workers employed in that sector. We know migrant workers are particularly vulnerable to taking up those forms of employment, or ending up in them, often because they need to secure an income quickly, because they have paid money to come to this country. Unfortunately, precarious jobs are the most likely type of job they are going to get, because those are the sectors of the economy that are expanding.

On average, if you arrive in this country needing a job quickly, you are probably going to end up on a zero hours or temporary contract or in a job with an illegal contract. Unfortunately, migrant workers are particularly likely to work in that sector. We have said that is absolutely unacceptable. We want good conditions in those sectors, for the migrant workers who come and the UK workers who are here already. If you improve conditions and pay, restore things such as wages councils, not just in the agriculture sector, but across the private sector, in hotels where—