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Face it Whether it is a gaping gulf in pay, job insecurity or job discrimination based on your class, gender or race, a divided workplace is bad for your health. Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the global union body ITUC, reveals how inequality is a real pain in the workplace – and outlines how unions can make things better.
Hazards 137, March 2017



UK CoVE TUC Commission on Vulnerable Employment

USA Working Immigrants A weblog about the business of immigrant work

USA NYCOSH migrants webpages on occupational and environmental safety and health for immigrant and other vulnerable workers

UK Safety and migrant workers: A practical guide for safety representatives, TUC, June 2007 [pdf]




Britain: The shocking treatment of migrant workers harms us all
UNISON has gathered evidence of appalling exploitation of migrant workers by unscrupulous care bosses including beingoverworked on 80 hours a week, or given too few hours to survive off. Given inadequate training, living in poor conditions and threatened with deportation if they speak out. Care is one of the biggest industries in the UK, but also one of the most precarious. It’s broken, on the brink of collapse and only being propped up by the work of migrants.
Unison General Secretary's blog. Expendable labour: the exploitation of migrant care workers. The Guardian. 28 November 2023

Migrant care staff ‘exploited and harassed’
Migrant staff coming to the UK to take up jobs in social care are being forced to pay back thousands of pounds in fees, housed in sub-standard accommodation and even forced to share beds with colleagues, UNISON has warned.
UNISON news release, 10 July 2023.

Gulf States: Migrant workers at serious risk from heat
Migrant workers toiling in the Gulf are at serious risk from dangerous heat exposures through the working day, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has warned. “Despite substantial scientific evidence on the devastating health impact of exposure to extreme heat, Gulf states’ protection failures are causing millions of migrant workers to face grave risks, including death,” said Michael Page, HRW’s deputy Middle East director.
HRW news release. 31 May 2023

Britain: UK a hostile environment for LGBTQ+ journalists
LGBTQ+ journalists face a hostile environment in the UK, with most finding themselves the objects of online harassment and abuse, a study has suggested. The research, which was commissioned by the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity (LHC), indicated that many saw their roles as dangerous and wanted more support from senior colleagues.
The Guardian. 10 May 2023

USA: Injuries expose racism in safety enforcement
Workers organised under the Union of Southern Service Workers have filed a civil rights complaint against South Carolina’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (SC OSHA), alleging that the state agency “discriminates by disproportionately excluding black workers from the protection of its programmed inspections.” The complaint notes: “SC OSHA neglects key industries whose workforce is 42 per cent black employees, while focusing the vast majority of its programmed inspections on industries made up of only 18 per cent black workers.”
News Click. OHS Canada. 12 April 2023

Britain: Equality is a firefighter safety issue, says FBU
Equality is a trade union principle and a safety priority for the FBU, the firefighters’ union has said. “Firefighters have the right to work without fear of being mistreated because of their gender, ethnicity, sexuality, disability or neurodiversity - or bullied or abused while doing their job,” the union said, adding: “Just as much as fire contaminants and unsafe working practices, this kind of toxic culture is a matter of health and safety in the workplace.”
FBU news release. 5 April 2023

Britain: Migration Bill is ‘a gift’ to dodgy employers
The government’s Illegal Migration Bill is “a gift to dodgy employers” who are looking to exploit migrant workers, the TUC has warned. TUC general secretary Paul Nowak, commenting on the ‘deplorable and very likely unlawful’ proposals, said: “Exploitation of migrant workers is already rampant – but this Bill will make a bad situation much, much worse.”
TUC news release.29 March 2023

Britain: Over half of LGBT teachers face abuse
Over half of LGBTI teachers (52 per cent) experience discrimination and abuse from pupils and parents, new polling by teaching union NASUWT has found. Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, commented: “With teacher recruitment and retention reaching crisis levels, governments and employers need to be doing everything in their power to make teaching an inclusive and attractive profession.”
NASUWT news release. Morning Star. 22 February 2023

USA: New protections for immigrant workers
A new US policy introduced by the federal safety regulator OSHA will offer significant protections for immigrant workers, safety campaigners have said. Under the changes, OSHA now has authority to issue visas to workers who have suffered mental or physical abuse as a result of illegal conduct by their employers, such as wage theft, violations of safety laws, and other mistreatment in the workplace.
OSHA news release. 15 February 2023

Britain: ‘Rampant’ exploitation of migrant workers condemned
Trade unions have condemned UK government attempts to ‘pit’ workers against each other, and are calling for urgent action to advance the rights of migrant workers, including undocumented people, and end migrant worker exploitation. The call from the TUC and 20 national unions came as the government ramps up the hostile environment, including an announcement by the prime minister he will increase immigration raids on workplaces by 50 per cent this year.
JCWI news release. BFAWU news release. Usdaw news release. 26 January 2023

Britain: Teachers harmed by racism at work
Ethnic minority teachers are being harmed by the racism they encounter at work, new research has found. Commenting on its study, wellbeing charity Education Support the findings “clearly illustrate the differential experiences of Black and Brown and other ethnic minority teachers and leaders in schools across the country, including barriers to progression, tokenism and microaggressions.”
Education Support news release and Mental Health and Wellbeing of Ethnic Minority Teachers report. NASUWT news release. 18 January 2023

USA: Black workers hit hardest as work fatalities spike
A sharp rise in work fatalities in the US has disproportionately affected Black workers, new official figures have revealed. Doug Parker, head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said: “In 2021, 5,190 workers suffered fatal work injuries, equating to one worker death in the US every 101 minutes, including 653 Black workers, whose fatality rate hit an all-time high.
OSHA news release. 2021 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16 December 2022. AFL-CIO statement. Confined Space. 21 December 2022

Britain: Sunak's relaxation of modern slavery rules ‘dangerous’
The prime minister’s plans to toughen the criteria for claims of modern slavery are dangerous and risk undermining protections for victims, campaigners and experts have warned. Rishi Sunak said he is planning to rewrite modern slavery guidance as part of a crackdown on asylum seekers “cheating the system,” adding “we will significantly raise the threshold someone has to meet to be considered a modern slave.”
Prime minister’s statement to parliament, 13 December 2022. Morning Star. 21 December 2022

Britain: Disabled council worker gets harassment payout
A disabled council worker who was ‘humiliated’ by a boss has been awarded compensation for ‘injury to feelings’. A tribunal found comments made by Rotherham Council's former assistant chief executive Shokat Lal to Yassir Mahmood amounted to disability-related harassment.
BBC News Online. 7 December 2022

USA: ‘Oppressive child labour’ violations at processing plants
The US Department of Labor has asked a federal court to issue a nationwide temporary restraining order and injunction against Packers Sanitation Services Inc. Ltd (PSSI) – one of the nation’s leading providers of food safety sanitation – to stop the company from illegally employing dozens of minor-aged workers while the department continues its investigation of the company’s labour practices. The complaint was prompted by an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division that discovered that PSSI had employed at least 31 children – from 13 to 17 years of age – in hazardous occupations.
US Department of Labor news release. 18 November 2022

Canada: Trans workers face more violence at work
Canada’s unions are calling attention to the alarming results from the recent national survey on harassment and violence in Canadian workplaces, which revealed that non-binary and trans workers were disproportionately affected. “Two spirit, trans, non-binary and gender non confirming people are bearing the brunt of violence and harassment both within and outside of the workplace,” said Larry Rousseau, executive vice president at the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), the national union centre that conducted the research.
CLC news release and Workers in Transition guide. 18 November 2022

Britain: Slavery order against unsafe car wash owner
The owner of a Kent hand car wash has had been handed a 10-year slavery order. Margate Magistrates’ Court approved the application for a full Slavery and Trafficking Risk Order (STRO) against Genc Gjocaj at a hearing on 6 October over concerns about the Margate car wash in relation to the absence of protective equipment, contracts and payslips for the workers.
GLAA news release. Risks 1063. 14 October 2022

Britain: Seasonal worker visas could increase slavery risk
More people will be at risk of modern slavery on British farms if a cap on seasonal worker visas is lifted, labour rights experts have warned. Liz Truss has signalled that she intends to lift the cap on foreign workers in seasonal agriculture as part of a review of visas to tackle labour shortages.
FLEX news release. The Guardian. Risks 1061. 29 September 2022

Britain: Campaigners join forces to end exploitation in UK fishing
A groundbreaking collaboration between unions and a labour-based human rights group plans to identify and combat human rights violations on commercial fishing vessels in the UK. The partnership between the global union federation ITF and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ (CIW) Fair Food Program (FFP) — a US-based group concerned with the monitoring and enforcing of workplace protections in food industry supply chains — follows an explosive report released by the University of Nottingham earlier this year that exposed the ‘horrific’ racial, physical and sexual abuse migrant workers face while working in the UK fishing industry.
ITF news release. CIW Fair Food Programme. 7 September 2022

Britain: ‘Damning’ review of discrimination in the Cabinet Office
Civil service union PCS has demanded a full overhaul of the Cabinet Office’s process of dealing with bullying, harassment and racism by senior staff. The call came after an internal review leaked to The Times revealed around one in ten people working in the department have been affected, with non-white civil servants left feeling alienated and having to “work harder to be respected and understood”. 
PCS news release. BBC News Online. 7 September 2022

Britain: Thousands quit jobs because of racism
More than 120,000 workers from minority ethnic backgrounds have quit their jobs because of racism, TUC research have found. The landmark study concluded workplace discrimination is sapping the confidence of a large part of the UK workforce.
TUC news release. Usdaw news release. The Guardian.
Health, safety and racism in the workplace: A study of Black workers’ experiences, TUC, 2022. 7 September 2022

Canada: Migrant workers treated like slaves
Jamaican migrant farm workers in Canada have sent an open letter to Jamaica's Ministry of Labour requesting more support in the face of what they call “systematic slavery”. The workers, members of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC), wrote they are “treated like mules” and punished for not being quick enough and they are exposed to dangerous pesticides without adequate protection, and their bosses are verbally abusive.
CBC News. 23 August 2022

Britain: Black workers need better representation and safety
Black workers are typically in more dangerous jobs than wide workers, TUC commissioned research has found. Greenwich University academics used a survey and focus groups of Black workers and reps, including health and safety reps, to examine the experiences of frontline workers during the pandemic and the role unions have played and could play, and note: “Racialised occupational hierarchies led to the exposure of frontline workers, disproportionately Black, to extreme risk while disproportionately white management were able to isolate.”
Health, safety and racism in the workplace: A study of Black workers’ experiences, TUC, 2022. 23 August 2022

New Zealand: Union concern over seasonal worker abuse
Revelations that seasonal migrant workers are being exploited, forced to live in cold, damp homes and are being threatened against joining unions, must prompt urgent action from the New Zealand government, the Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU) has demanded. “We are simply appalled at reports that Pacific workers have been forced to live in crowded, unhealthy homes in the middle of winter and face other restrictions which amount to a breach of human rights,” said NZCTU president Richard Wagstaff.
NZCTU news release. Risks 1055. 9 August 2022

Global: Work contributes to poorer health of migrants
A new report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) has found work hazards are a contributor to far poorer health outcomes for many vulnerable refugees and migrants. The report points out “a recent meta-analysis of more than 17 million participants from 16 countries across five WHO regions found that, compared with non-migrant workers, migrant workers were less likely to use health services and more likely to have an occupational injury.”
WHO news release and report, World report on the health of refugees and migrants, WHO, 20 July 2022. 26 July 2022

Canada: Poor housing is killing migrant farm workers
This month, Canada’s federal government is holding a roundtable to improve migrant farm workers’ employer-provided housing. Welcoming the initiative, Canadian researchers Anelyse Weiler and C Susana Caxaj, who are both members of a Migrant Worker Health Expert Working Group, are calling on the federal government to take urgent action to ‘significantly’ raise and enforce standards for “physical housing conditions (eg. no bunk beds), health and safety, freedom from employer control and security of tenure.”
The Conversation. Risks 1052. 19 July 2022

USA: Protecting immigrant workers protects us all
All workers, regardless of their immigration status, must feel free to participate in US Department of Labor (DoL) investigations and proceedings “without fear of retaliation or consequences”, according to a government policy clarification. The DoL has now created a tailored system for workers to register concerns about “abusive and exploitative labour practices,” with some protection from the attention of the immigration services.
AFL-CIO News reléase. Department of Labor News reléase. 13 July 2022

Britain: Only half of firms have a policy on abuse of LGBT staff
A new TUC poll has revealed a widespread lack of support for lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) staff at work. The survey found only half (51 per cent) of managers surveyed told the TUC they have a policy prohibiting discrimination, bullying and harassment against LGBT workers; but less than half (47 per cent) said they have a clear reporting route for workers to raise concerns on these issues – even though one in seven (15 per cent) managers have responded to bullying, harassment or discrimination against one or more LGBT workers.
TUC news release. Morning Star. 5 July 2022

Britain: Fishers beaten and exploited on UK boats
A third of migrant workers on UK fishing vessels work 20-hour shifts, and 35 per cent report regular physical violence, according to new research that concludes there is rampant exploitation and abuse on British ships. Researchers at the University of Nottingham Rights Lab, which focuses on modern slavery, found more than 60 per cent of fishers - including UK nationals - said they would never report a grievance out of fear of being blacklisted and refused re-employment.
University of Nottingham news release and report, Letting Exploitation Off the Hook, University of Nottingham Rights Lab, May 2022. ITF news release and report, A one way ticket to labour exploitation: how transit visa loopholes are being used to exploit migrant fishers on UK fishing vessels, May 2022. The Guardian. 18 May 2022

Britain: GMB to take 'callous' Yodel to tribunal
Parcel delivery firm Yodel is to face an employment tribunal over its “callous” move to sack a disabled worker. The union GMB said Tony White, 56, who has several conditions including a spinal issue, was fired after 19 years of service on “capability grounds.”
Morning Star. Risks 1042. 26 April 2022

Britain: Racism hurts in the jobs market
Ministers must end the racism in the UK jobs market, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting on the government’s 16 March 2022 acceptance of the recommendations of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, published in March 2021 in the Sewell report, which the TUC described as ‘complacent’. 
TUC news release. The Guardian. Risks 1037. 24 March 2022

Britain: Reasonable adjustments must not be an afterthought
The TUC must use its power to argue for legislative changes to strengthen the rights of disabled workers to receive “reasonable adjustments” and for employers to be fined if they do not provide them. A motion passed at the TUC Disabled Workers’ Conference, held online this year, said Employment Tribunals must liaise with the Equality and Human Rights Commission to investigations employers who are “serial disability discrimination offenders”.
NUJ news release. Usdaw news release. Risks 1037. 24 March 2022

Ireland: Migrant fisher injuries linked to permit scheme
Injuries sustained by migrant fishers have been linked to a culture of excessive hours and ‘cover-ups’ driven by Ireland’s controversial work permit scheme. Campaign lead for the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) in Ireland, Michael O’Brien, told media that fishers were working longer hours than was safe or legal, but that the risk of fishers losing their visa status if they are fired or taken out of work due to injury meant many feel compelled to endure unsafe practices on board.
ITF news release. Risks 1036. 16 March 2022

Britain: ‘Structural racism’ reflected in insecure work
Insecure work is “tightening the grip” of structural racism on the labour market and deepening gender inequalities, a new analysis from the TUC has concluded. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said “the time for excuses is over,” adding: “The government must publish its long overdue employment bill and ban exploitative practices like zero hours contracts.”
TUC news release. Morning Star. More on the hazards of insecure work. Risks 1035. 9 March 2022

Qatar: Migrant workers still exploited ahead of World Cup
Reforms in Qatar have stalled with a year to go before the 2022 football World Cup, leaving thousands of migrant workers trapped and exploited, according to a new report by Amnesty International. A new 48-page Amnesty report, ‘Reality Check 2021’, has accused the authorities of “complacency” in applying the laws and says it has led to the worst elements of the kafala system, which binds workers to their employer, resurfacing.”
Amnesty International news release. Uefa Working Group on Workers’ Rights in Qatar. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 1022. 17 November 2021

Britain: Disabled workers want to work from home
Nine in 10 disabled workers surveyed (90 per cent) who worked from home during the pandemic want to continue doing so at least some of the time, according to a TUC poll. The poll – run by YouGov for the TUC – found that many disabled workers experienced working from home for the first time during the pandemic, adding working from home was a ‘gamechanger’ for many disabled workers.
TUC news release and full report, Disabled Workers’ access to flexible working as a reasonable adjustment, 22 October 2021. i-News. Risks 1019. 26 October 2021

Korea: Foreign workers more likely to die at work
Foreign workers are three times as likely to be killed in South Korea’s workplaces as Korean nationals, official figures have indicated. Data from the Ministry of Employment and Labor submitted to Rep. Kang Eun-mi of the Justice Party showed that one in eight ― or 12 per cent ― of the victims of work fatalities over the past 18 months were workers of foreign nationality.
Korea Times. Risks 1009. 11 August 2021

India: Migrant workers die in broken down bus smash
At least 18 migrant workers died after a truck crashed into their bus in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Yamuna Prasad, superintendent of police in Barabanki, said: “The bus probably broke down because it had about 140 passengers when its capacity was just 65.”
BBC News Online. Daily Mail. Risks 1007, 29 July 2021

Britain: Missed chance to help disabled workers
A new UK government disability strategy amounts to a ‘missed chance’ to help disabled workers, the TUC has said. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said:  “Disabled workers have a legal right to the reasonable adjustments they need – but two-fifths of disabled workers aren’t getting them.”
DWP news release, advice hub and National Disability Strategy. TUC news release. BBC News Online. Risks 1007, 29 July 2021

Belgium: Union concern after migrant site workers die
Construction unions have expressed serious concerns after five workers were killed and another nine were injured at a site in Antwerp, Belgium. The tragedy occurred on 19 June after a section of a school building under construction collapsed, pulling down the scaffolding supporting it.
BWI news release. The Guardian. Brussels Times. Risks 1003. 30 June 2021

Britain: BME hugely ‘over-represented’ on zero hours contracts
Structural racism in the labour market is trapping Black and minority ethnic (BME) workers on low pay and in insecure work, the TUC and Race on the agenda (ROTA) have warned. A joint report from the organisations reveals around one in six zero hours contract workers are BME, even though BME workers make up just one in nine workers overall.
TUC news release. ROTA website. The Guardian.
More on the hazards of insecure work and low pay. Risks 1001. 16 June 2021

Britain: Unite push to protect Turkish and Kurdish workers
Unite is stepping up its campaign to eradicate the pay and employment abuses affecting members of the Turkish and Kurdish communities in London. The union said last year, as the pandemic took hold, it joined forces with community organisation Day-Mer to kickstart a workers’ rights campaign aimed at the Turkish and Kurdish community in the north London boroughs of Enfield, Hackney, Haringey and Islington.
Unite news release. Risks 992. 14 April 2021

USA: Nebraska governor’s shame on immigrant vaccinations
Comments by Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts last week went viral for all the wrong reasons, an opinion piece in The Hill has reported. While the US federal government has largely left the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines to the states, the Washington Post notes that Nebraska is so far the only state to have “publicly suggested it will consider legal status in its immunization campaign — a move that even federal officials have warned could be dangerous.”
The Hill. Newscenter1 TV. Risks 980. 13 January 2020

Britain: Inequality a big factor in self-isolation rates and work risks
Black and minority ethnic (BME) workers have had to self-isolate at a much higher rate than white workers, according to TUC research. The poll for the TUC, carried out by Britain Thinks, shows that more than a third (35 per cent) of BME workers have self-isolated during the pandemic, compared to a quarter (24 per cent) of white workers.
TUC news release. Risks 978. 15 December 2020

Britain: Figures confirm pandemic’s disadvantage ‘triple whammy’
The government must act to address the structural racism in the UK economy that has left Black and minority ethnic (BME) workers at higher risk of ill-health and hardship throughout the pandemic, the TUC has said. Commenting on statistics published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 14 December showing the detrimental impact of the coronavirus crisis on different ethnic groups in the UK, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “BME workers have faced a triple whammy of threats during the pandemic.”
TUC news release. Coronavirus and the social impacts on different ethnic groups in the UK: 2020, ONS, 14 December 2020. Risks 978. 15 December 2020

Britain: TUC’s antiracism taskforce targets ‘hostile’ workplaces
The TUC’s new antiracism taskforce has met for the first time. The organisation, chaired by NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach, will lead the trade union movement’s renewed campaign against racism at work, the TUC says.
TUC news release. Risks 978. 15 December 2020

Britain: Union demands protection for ‘vulnerable’ school staff
Teaching union NEU has called on the government to ensure clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) school staff are protected as the lockdown ends. The union, which last week presented evidence to schools minister Nick Gibb of rising Covid-19 infection rates in primary and secondary schools, argued it was not safe for CEV school staff to return to workplaces from 3 December.
NEU news release. Risks 976. 2 December 2020

Britain: Black and Asian people at greater risk from Covid
Black people are twice as likely as white people to catch the coronavirus, a study of 18 million people suggests, with higher exposures at work one of the contributory factors needing attention. Researchers at the Universities of Leicester and Nottingham say their findings, based on an analysis of US and UK studies, are of “urgent public health importance” and raise questions about how vaccines will be prioritised within at-risk groups.
Shirley Sze, Daniel Pan, Clareece R Nevill and others. Ethnicity and clinical outcomes in COVID-19: A systematic review and meta-analysis, EClinical Medicine, Open Access. Published: 12 November 2020. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eclinm.2020.100630 BBC News Online. Risks 974. 19 November 2020.

USA: Minorities in food jobs hard hit by Covid-19
Racial and ethnic minority workers have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19 in food manufacturing and agriculture workplaces, according to a new study. “Reducing workplace exposures is critical for protecting workers in US food processing, food manufacturing, and agriculture workplaces and might help reduce health disparities among disproportionately affected populations,” the authors note.
CIDRAP report. Coronavirus Disease among Workers in Food Processing, Food Manufacturing, and Agriculture Workplaces, Emerging Infectious Diseases, volume 27, number 1, January 2021, early release 19 October 2020. Risks 971. 31 October 2020

Britain: Recruiters banned after exploiting agricultural workers
A husband and wife have been banned from acting as company directors for a total of 21 years after they exploited and abused agricultural workers. Inspectors from the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) discovered that between July 2017 and September 2018, Simon and Julie Melville failed to make holiday payments to 186 employees, charged employees for safety equipment which should have been supplied free of charge and didn’t provide employees with copies of their contracts.
Insolvency Service news release. GLAA news release. Risks 971. 31 October 2020

Britain: Bad jobs and circumstances cause Covid race risks
A scientist advising the government on ethnicity and Covid has said the jobs Black and south Asian people do are a major reason they are at greater risk of illness and death. Dr Raghib Ali said: “The problem with focusing on ethnicity as a risk factor is that it misses the very large number of non-ethnic minority groups, so whites basically, who also live in deprived areas and overcrowded housing and with high risk occupations.”
Quarterly report on progress to address COVID-19 health inequalities, Race Disparity Unit, October 2020. Minister for Equalities Kemi Badenoch’s letter to the Prime Minister and Health Secretary on the first COVID-19 disparities report. BBC News Online. Risks 971. 31 October 2020

Britain: Black staff need infection protection at work
Employers must do more to reduce the elevated risk from coronavirus faced by Black workers, public sector union has said. Responding to new government measures to address race disparities in the impact of Covid-19, UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “The heightened risks to Black staff are now well-known, even if some causes remain unexplained.”
UNISON news release. Risks 971. 31 October 2020

Britain: Union challenge to ‘unlawful’ reopening of universities
The government is facing a union legal challenge over its “unlawful” decision to reopen universities for face-to-face teaching. Lecturers’ union UCU is seeking a judicial review of the government’s decision to ignore advice from its own Sage committee of experts to move all non-essential university and college teaching online in September, and adds its own analysis shows over 27,000 university staff and students have tested positive for Covid since the start of term.
UCU news release. The Observer. Risks 971. 31 October 2020

Britain: BME women over-represented in insecure, risky jobs
Black and minority ethnic (BME) women are around twice as likely as white workers to be employed in insecure jobs, according to a new TUC study. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Being trapped in insecure work has exposed BME women to extra risk during this crisis, with many losing their lives.”
TUC news release, blog and briefing paper, Black women and work, 28 October 2020. Risks 971. 31 October 2020

USA: Jobs behind Black, Latino virus exposures
Workplace exposures in frontline workers explain the high rates of Covid-19 in Black and Latino communities in the US, researchers have found. The massive study, encompassing data from 100,000 patients, was conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, part of the National Institutes of Health, indicated Black and Latino workers were more likely to get infected on the job than white workers, and that they typically return home to larger households, magnifying the inequity.
New Orleans Advocate.
Thomas M Selden and Terceira A Berdahl. COVID-19 And Racial/Ethnic Disparities In Health Risk, Employment, And Household Composition, Health Affairs, volume 39, number 9, pages 1624-1632, 2020.
Gold JA, Rossen LM, Ahmad FB and others. Race, Ethnicity, and Age Trends in Persons Who Died from COVID-19 — United States, May–August 2020, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, ePub, 16 October 2020. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6942e Risks 970. 24 October 2020

Britain: Calls for public inquiry into Belly Mujinga's death
The family and union of a rail worker who died from Covid-19 after being complaining she was spat on at a London station have called for “an immediate public inquiry” into her death. The calls came after it emerged there were critical flaws in evidence gathering around the spitting incident prior to Belly Mujinga’s death.
BBC Panorama. TSSA news release. Morning Star. Risks 970. 24 October 2020

Britain: Racial bias in access to PPE, GMB survey finds
More than 1 in 4 Black, Asian and ethnic minority workers has not been given the personal protective equipment their jobs require, a GMB survey has found, with their health and safety concerns around Covid-19 frequently going unaddressed. The union’s ‘shocking’ findings, based on responses from 761 workers, come as updated ONS estimates revealed that black men are up to 3.8 times more likely to die from coronavirus than white men, with their jobs one of the key factors believed responsible.
GMB news release. Risks 970. 24 October 2020

Britain: Higher ethnic death risk linked to jobs
Ethnic minorities’ higher risk of dying from Covid-19 is linked to where they live and the jobs they do, rather than their health, figures for England and Wales suggest. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) analysis concluded: “These findings show that ethnic differences in mortality involving Covid-19 are most strongly associated with demographic and socio-economic factors, such as place of residence and occupational exposures, and cannot be explained by pre-existing health conditions using hospital data or self-reported health status.”
Updating ethnic contrasts in deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19), England and Wales: deaths occurring 2 March to 28 July 2020, ONS, 16 October 2020.  BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 970. 24 October 2020

Britain: BME workers shouldered more risk during pandemic
Black and minority ethnic (BME) workers have been asked to “shoulder more risk” during the pandemic, often working in insecure jobs with fewer rights at work, the TUC has revealed. The union body said BME people are far more likely to be in precarious work and in jobs with higher coronavirus mortality rates than white people.
TUC news release and analysis of BME people working in professions with higher mortality rates. NASUWT news release. Risks 965. 19 September 2020

Britain: Webinar on Covid-19: LGBT+ and black workers
What has been the impact of Covid-19 on LGBT+ and black workers? Join TUC experts Quinn Roache and Wilf Sullivan on 16 September to find out how you can support colleagues facing redundancy and the effects of the economic downturn.
The impact of Covid-19: LGBT+ and black workers, Wednesday 16 September 2020, 14:00-14:45. Register for the webinar. Risks 964. 12 September 2020

Britain: Peers back TUC call for help for vulnerable workers
A group of cross-party peers is backing calls from the TUC and charities for more government support for clinically vulnerable people going back to workplaces. The national union body and the coalition of charities including Age UK, Diabetes UK, Macmillan and the MS Society want a guaranteed decent income and job security for vulnerable people while infection risks remain high.
Morning Star.
Job security: Saving the jobs of those who cannot work at home, but who have to stay at home, TUC, July 2020. Risks 964. 12 September 2020

USA: Race inequalities in Covid-19 linked to worse jobs
Higher rates of Covid-19 in Hispanic and other non-white workers are explained by these groups being over-represented in high risk jobs, a US study has found. A 17 August report in the US government’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) noted: “Systemic social inequities have resulted in the overrepresentation of Hispanic and non-white workers in frontline occupations where exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, might be higher; extra vigilance in these sectors is needed to ensure prevention and mitigation strategies are applied equitably and effectively to workers of racial and ethnic groups disproportionately affected by Covid-19.”
Bui DP, McCaffrey K, Friedrichs M, and others. Racial and Ethnic Disparities Among COVID-19 Cases in Workplace Outbreaks by Industry Sector — Utah, March 6–June 5, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. ePub: 17 August 2020. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6933e3 [also in pdf format]. Risks 961. 22 August 2020

Britain: Unite's ‘unique’ support for extremely vulnerable workers
Unite has pledged to support vulnerable workers as the UK government increases pressure for them to return to work. Unite says its new checklist will help its workplace reps assist members who have been shielding to safely return to work where the workplace is “Covid-secure”.
Unite news release and vulnerable workers checklist. Updated government working safely guidance. Risks 960. 15 August 2020

Britain: Address inequality to protect Black workers
The government must act immediately to protect Black workers from Covid-19 by closing gaps that create health inequalities and poverty and ensuring workplaces are safe, UNISON has said. The union has written to the prime minister urging him to implement all Public Health England’s (PHE) recommendations such as developing comprehensive risk assessments for Black staff to reduce their chance of coronavirus exposure and infection.
UNISON news release. Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on BAME groups, PHE, 16 June 2020. Risks 953. 27 June 2020

Britain: Government must protect BAME people from Covid-19
The TUC and doctors’ organisation the British Medical Association (BMA) have called for immediate action after a delayed official report concluded racism could contribute to the increased Covid-19 risks for Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups. The Public Health England report found “historic racism and poorer experiences of healthcare or at work” meant people in BAME groups were less likely to seek care when they needed it or speak up if they had concerns about risk in the workplace.
TUC news release. Covid-19: How racism kills, TUC blog, 1 May 2020. BMA news release. Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on BAME groups, Public Health England review, 16 June 2020. GMB news release. NEU news release. PCS news release. UNISON news release. BBC News Online. Risks 952. 20 June 2020

Britain: Migrant workers supplying the food industry need respect
The rights of thousands of migrant workers working hard to pick fruit and vegetables to keep the food chain supplied during the coronavirus emergency need to be respected, Unite has said. The union said that migrant employees working in the fields and orchards were designated as ‘key workers’ as they were a vital cog in the food production and supply chains.
Unite news release. Risk 940. 28 March 2020

Britain: Young black and minority workers stuck in bad jobs
Millennials from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds are 47 per cent more likely to be on a zero hours contract, and have 10 per cent greater odds of working a second job, compared to their white peers, according to a new report from the UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies, Carnegie UK Trust, and Operation Black Vote. BAME millennials are also 5 per cent more likely to be doing shiftwork, and are 4 per cent less likely to have a permanent contract than white workers.
Carnegie Trust UK news release and report, Race inequality in the workplace, March 2020. BBC News Online. Risks 937. 7 March 2020

Qatar: Migrant sudden deaths not investigated
Concerns have been raised about the deaths of hundreds of migrant labourers each year preparing facilities for the 2022 Qatar football World Cup, with the majority of the fatalities attributed to heart attacks or “natural causes” by the Qatari authorities. Many are young men who die in their sleep – a phenomenon known locally as “sudden death syndrome”.
The Guardian and related story on Qatar’s heat related migrant worker deaths. Risks 918. 12 October 2019

USA: Safety interventions less effective for low-waged
A safe patient-handling intervention decreased injuries among nurses, but not among lower-wage care workers, a US study has found. Researchers from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health confirmed the “inequality paradox” when they compared self-reports of safe patient-handling practices and hospital injury rates at two large Boston area hospitals from 2012 to 2014.
Sabbath EL, Yang J, Dennerlein JT and others. Paradoxical impact of a patient-handling intervention on injury rate disparity among hospital workers, American Journal of Public Health, volume 109, number 4, pages 618-625, 2019.  NIOSH Science Blog.
Degraded, Hazards, Number 142, 2018. Unjust pay rates can be deadly, ETUC, 2018. More on the health and safety and low pay. Risks 916. 28 September 2019

Britain: Safety body calls for action on modern slavery
The government and businesses must do more to fight the ‘growing global scourge’ of modern slavery, safety professionals’ organisation IOSH has said. The top safety officers’ group was speaking out after its new poll indicated there is now strong public support for action.
IOSH news release and report, Tackling modern slavery together: the roles of governments, employers, professionals and the public, September 2019. Risks 915. 21 September 2019

Canada: Union backs call for stronger migrant protections
The union UCFW Canada is backing calls from migrant workers’ groups for greater health and safety protection for migrant workers. As part of an official review of the workplace safety strategy in Ontario, the groups are exploring ways to make agricultural work safer and healthier for workers participating in Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) and Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).
UFCW Canada news release. Risks 907. 27 July 2019

Britain: Slavery network 'had 400 victims'
Members of a gang behind the biggest modern-day slavery network ever exposed in the UK have been jailed. Police believe more than 400 victims were put to work in the West Midlands by the organised crime gang, with one person injured while working forced back to the factory without hospital treatment, suffering long-term health problems as a result.
Hope for Justice news release. BBC News Online. Express and Star. Risks 905. 13 July 2019

Britain: Farmer fined after casual worker suffers fatal fall
A farmer has been fined following a worker’s fatal fall through a milking shed skylight. Mold Magistrates’ Court heard how on 19 July 2018 self-employed contractor David Alan Rees, 56, was fatally injured whilst he was clearing out the valley gutter from a ladder at Knolton Farm, Overton.
HSE news release. Daily Post. Risks 898. 25 May 2019

Britain: High Court catches up with exploitative chicken catcher
The High Court has ruled in favour of a group of Lithuanian men who were put to work in terrible conditions by a British company, catching chickens at farms all over the country. The court ruled that the workers who brought the case were subject to a gruelling and exploitative work regime by their employer, DJ Houghton Catching Services, and by its sole director, Darrell Houghton, and the company secretary, Jackie Judge.
Leigh Day news release. BBC News Online. Kent Messenger. Risks 893. 13 April 2019

USA: Amazon workers walk out over speed-up
After yet another speed-up in a workplace notorious for its lightning pace of work, workers at a Minnesota Amazon warehouse walked off the night shift for three hours. More than 50 workers walked off their shifts an hour early to participate in the action, in what Labor Notes reports could be the first coordinated strike at an Amazon facility in the US.
Labor Notes. Risks 891. 30 March 2019

Italy: Stop the exploitation of migrant farm workers
A group of Italian doctors is calling for urgent action to stop the exploitation of thousands of migrants working in agriculture across Italy. Writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), Dr Claudia Marotta and colleagues said more than 1,500 migrant agricultural workers have died did in the country as a result of their work over the past six years, while others have been killed by the so-called “Caporali” who are modern slave masters.
Claudia Marotta and others. Opinion: Stop the exploitation of migrant agricultural workers in Italy, British Medical Journal, 28 March 2019. Risks 891. 30 March 2019

Spain: Documentary reveals plight of Moroccan migrants
The Moroccan migrant workers harvesting strawberries in Spain are having to endure exploitative conditions and are forced to live in squalid accommodation, new evidence has confirmed. Each year, Spanish strawberry and berry farms recruit tens of thousands of female Moroccan workers through Morocco’s national employment agency, ANAPEC.
Morocco World News. Risks 890. 23 March 2019

Britain: Agency worker seriously injured on first day of work
A distribution company has been fined after an agency worker sustained serious, life-changing injuries whilst working as a delivery driver in Cheltenham. Cheltenham Magistrate’s Court heard how, on 18 May 2017, a 27-year-old agency worker working out of H&M Distribution Limited’s Gloucester depot fell backwards from his lorry’s raised tail lift onto the road and several kegs of beer fell and struck him.
HSE news release. Risks 888. 9 March 2019

Britain: New union passports to help disabled workers
A new union ‘reasonable adjustments’ passport has been launched to help the nearly 1 million (946,010) people with disabilities who fall out of work or switch employers each year. The joint initiative from the TUC and the union GMB hopes to ensure employers meet their legal duty to make – and keep in place – the reasonable adjustments necessary for them to do their jobs.
TUC news release. GMB news release. The full report, model workplace policy and model reasonable adjustments passport. Risks 887. 2 March 2019

USA: Car wash study shows workers untrained and at risk
A new study has exposed the exploitation of migrant workers in New York City’s car wash industry. The authors note: “Car washes are urban assembly lines that employ toxic chemicals handled by untrained and unprotected immigrant workers who perform highly repetitive movements to produce clean vehicles.”
The Pump Handle blog. Brittany Dickens and others. Occupational health of New York City car wash workers, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 61, number 2, e77-e79, February 2019. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001520. Risks 886. 23 February 2019

Qatar: Global unions welcome end of migrant exit permits
Global unions have welcomed the announcement by Qatar on 4 September of new legislation that means many migrant workers, who have faced exploitative and dangerous work conditions, will no longer have to seek their employer’s permission to leave the country. Commenting on the amendment to the labour code, ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow said: “An estimated 1.5 million workers will now have the freedom to leave Qatar without their employer’s permission with this elimination of a central part of the kafala system of modern slavery, which is still in place in other Gulf countries.”
ILO news release. ITUC news release. BWI news release. ITF news release. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Japan: UN says Fukushima clean-up workers risk exploitation
Workers used to decontaminate the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan are at grave risk of exploitation, independent UN experts have warned. Tens of thousands, reportedly including migrants and homeless people, may be being deceived about the risks of exposure to radiation, according to the experts, who in August urged the Japanese government to act to protect them.
UN OHCHR news release. BBC News Online. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Italy: Migrant farm workers strike after 16 road deaths
African migrant labourers went on strike in Italy in protest at poor working conditions, after 16 workers died in two separate road crashes. Shouting “we are not slaves”, farm workers downed tools and marched on the city of Foggia in southern Italy.
BBC News Online. Al Jazeera. Risks 862. 18 August 2018

Britain: Work environment is harming disabled teachers
Almost two-thirds (61 per cent) of disabled teachers believe their working conditions have impacted negatively on their health in the last 12 months, according to teaching union NASUWT. A large majority (72 per cent) of disabled teachers told the union they have considered leaving the profession as a result of factors in the workplace impacting on their health.
NASUWT news release. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Britain: ‘Climate of fear’ at Lidl, claim Scottish workers
Workers at supermarket giant Lidl's Scottish distribution depot “operate in a climate of fear”, retail union Usdaw has warned. Hundreds of staff at the site in Livingston load groceries for transportation to Lidl's 94 stores across Scotland - but random employee theft checks are held without reasonable grounds for suspicion, reports Usdaw, adding that employees suffering extreme back pain from heavy lifting are afraid to take time off sick.
Usdaw news release. The Herald. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Britain: Exploitation rife in nail bars, recycling, on sites and in car washes
Exploitation and abuse of workers is widespread across the UK economy, according to a new report, which found that 17 sectors are high-risk for mistreatment ranging from wages theft to slavery. Construction, recycling, nail bars and car washes were among the top sectors where the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) said there was slavery, with agriculture, food packing, fishing, shellfish gathering, warehouse and distribution, garment manufacturing, taxi driving, retail, domestic work, and social care also highlighted in the report.
GLAA news release and full report, The nature and scale of labour exploitation across all sectors within the United Kingdom, GLAA, May 2018. The Guardian. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Britain: ‘Climate of fear’ at Lidl, claim Scottish workers
Workers at supermarket giant Lidl's Scottish distribution depot “operate in a climate of fear”, retail union Usdaw has warned. Hundreds of staff at the site in Livingston load groceries for transportation to Lidl's 94 stores across Scotland - but random employee theft checks are held without reasonable grounds for suspicion, reports Usdaw, adding that employees suffering extreme back pain from heavy lifting are afraid to take time off sick.
Usdaw news release. The Herald. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Britain: Exploitation rife in nail bars, recycling, on sites and in car washes
Exploitation and abuse of workers is widespread across the UK economy, according to a new report, which found that 17 sectors are high-risk for mistreatment ranging from wages theft to slavery. Construction, recycling, nail bars and car washes were among the top sectors where the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) said there was slavery, with agriculture, food packing, fishing, shellfish gathering, warehouse and distribution, garment manufacturing, taxi driving, retail, domestic work, and social care also highlighted in the report.
GLAA news release and full report, The nature and scale of labour exploitation across all sectors within the United Kingdom, GLAA, May 2018. The Guardian. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Britain: GLAA report ‘hits nail on the head’ on site exploitation
The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) on workplace exploitation ‘is entirely right’ in its criticism of the exploitation and modern slavery so prevalent in the construction industry, the union Unite has said. Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Employers must reform working practices to ensure that the unscrupulous cannot exploit workers and the government should be forcing employers to take such appropriate action.”
Unite news release. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Britain: Cornish gangmaster shutdown for safety abuses
A Cornish gangmaster who systematically exploited her workers through skimming off their pay, sending them to work double shifts with insufficient breaks and charging them to live in unhygienic and unsafe caravans has been shut down by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA). Neringa Butkeviciute, 29, operated her business DNK Recruitment out of the Bosparva Caravan Park in Leedstown, Hayle, where she provided workers for jobs in the GLAA regulated sector.
GLAA news release. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Stop bosses exploiting migrant labour
The TUC has called on the government to stop bosses exploiting migrant labour. Responding to a 15 January report on migration from the Home Affairs Committee, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The government must work with unions to crack down on employers who use migrants to undercut local labour.”
Home Affairs select committee news release. TUC news release. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Britain: Disabled DWP worker wins large unfair dismissal payout
A disabled member of PCS working in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), dismissed for non-disability related absences, has won her claim of unfair dismissal and discrimination. The member, who had worked for DWP for nearly four years, was awarded £110,165.14 in compensation plus 36 months pension contributions following her dismissal on 5 March 2016.
PCS news release. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: Uber fails in appeal against ruling on workers’ rights
In a landmark victory for the union GMB, taxi firm Uber has lost an appeal against a ruling that its drivers should be treated as workers rather than self-employed. Maria Ludkin, GMB legal director, said: “This landmark decision is yet more vindication of GMB’s campaign to ensure drivers are given the rights they are entitled to - and that the public, drivers and passengers are kept safe.”
GMB news release. Leigh Day news release. ITF news release. The Guardian. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Qatar: Major breakthrough on migrant workers’ rights
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has welcomed a commitment from the government of Qatar to end the kafala system of modern slavery. The global trade union body said it now plans further meetings with Qatar’s labour minister on implementing labour rights for two million migrant workers in the Gulf State.
ITUC news release. ITF news release. The Guardian. Risks 824. 4 November 2017

USA: They were hurt at work - then they were deported
A loophole in Florida law has led to hundreds of injured workers being deported. While nearly all 50 states have given undocumented workers the right to receive workers’ compensation, in Florida this comes with a catch - a 2003 law made it a crime to file a workers’ comp claim using false identification, and insurers or their private detectives are turning workers in to avoid making payouts.
ProPublica. NPR News. Risks 814. 26 August 2017

Britain: Slavery ‘widespread’ in the UK
Modern slavery and human trafficking in the UK is “far more prevalent than previously thought,” the National Crime Agency has said. The NCA said previous estimates there were 10,000-13,000 victims in the UK were the “tip of the iceberg,” with visible injuries one of the tell-tale signs to look out for when identifying slave labour.
NCA news release. The Independent. BBC News Online. Risks 813. 19 August 2017

Britain: More ‘modern-day slavery’ uncovered by ship unions
Three ships abandoned in UK waters have revealed a culture close to modern day slavery in some parts of the shipping industry, seafarers’ union Nautilus has said. Working with the global transport union ITF, Nautilus has been assisting the crews of the vessels.
Nautilus news release. ITF news release. Risks 810. 29 July 2017

Britain: Child labour exploitation referrals surge
The number of children feared to be victims of labour exploitation in the UK has risen by more than 60 per cent in the past year, an analysis of government statistics has revealed. There were 1,575 referrals for labour exploitation in 2016, among whom 1,107 were adults and a record 468 were children – marking a significant 63 per cent increase.
Kroll news release. The independent and related earlier story.
National Crime Agency National Referral Mechanism statistics. Risks 802. 3 June 2017

USA: Immigration officials entrap injured worker
US immigration officers have identified a new way to entrap undocumented workers – arrest them when they seek compensation after being injured at work. When Honduran national Jose Flores attended a meeting this month with his employer regarding compensation for a serious injury he had suffered when he fell off a ladder, officers from the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) service were waiting and arrested the injured worker, who could now be deported.
Confined Space blog. Talking Union. Risks 801. 27 May 2017

Britain: Review will order zero-hours contracts overhaul
The government-commissioned inquiry into controversial working practices is set to call for employees on zero-hours contracts to be given the right to request a move onto fixed hours. The idea was proposed in a Confederation of British Industry (CBI) submission to the review.
BBC News Online. Independent Review of Employment Practices in the Modern Economy. More on health and safety and insecure work. Risks 801. 27 May 2017

Britain: Right to request fixed hours ‘useless’, says Unite
Just giving workers the right to request fixed hours will be ‘useless’, Unite has warned. The union said it would do nothing to combat the use of exploitative zero hours and short hours’ contracts. Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “With a shocking 3.8 million people experiencing in-work poverty it’s high time that work in this country paid and the misery of insecure work was eradicated.”
Unite news release. The Guardian. Risks 801. 27 May 2017

USA: Lost leg exposes giant chicken supplier’s bad practices
After reports of a young worker becoming the latest victims of a major chicken processor, David Michaels, the head of the federal workplace safety regulator OHSA during the Obama administration, has called Case Farms “an outrageously dangerous place to work.” According to a report in The New Yorker: “Case Farms has built its business by recruiting some of the world’s most vulnerable immigrants, who endure harsh and at times illegal conditions that few Americans would put up with.”
ProPublica/The New Yorker. Working Immigrants. Risks 798. 6 May 2017

Britain: Labour exploitation tops modern slavery referrals
The number of people reported as potential victims of slavery and human trafficking in the UK has more than doubled in the past three years, with ‘labour exploitation’ now the largest single reason for reported abuse. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We need stronger laws and better enforcement to crack down on it.”
TUC news release. Joint Committee on Human Rights news release and report, 5 April 2017. National Crime Agency statistics and modern slavery webpages. BBC News Online. Morning Star. Risks 795. 8 April 2017

Britain: Protection call after surge in racist abuse of workers
Workers need protection from the upsurge in racist assaults and abuse at work since the Brexit vote last year, the TUC has said. The The ‘shocking results’ of a poll of over 1,000 Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) working adults by the TUC and ICM revealed over a third had witnessed or experienced racial abuse in the seven months following the referendum vote and almost one in five (19 per cent) had suffered or witnessed a racial assault.
TUC Stronger Unions blog and TUC/IBM BAME poll. TUC guide to violence at work. Risks 795. 8 April 2017

Britain: Workers should not have to pay to seek justice
UNISON’s legal battle to give people at work the right to access justice – without having to pay unaffordable fees – when employers break the law has been heard in the Supreme Court. UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Bad employers are having a field day, safe in the knowledge that few will be able to afford to challenge them at a tribunal.”
UNISON news release. Risks 794. 1 April 2017

Britain: Couriers told to find sick cover or face big fines
Parcel delivery firms DPD and Parcelforce Worldwide have been called before a committee of MPs to answer questions about the working conditions faced by their self-employed couriers. Frank Field, the Labour MP who chairs the work and pensions select committee, has written to the bosses of both companies asking them to provide evidence as part of an ongoing inquiry into the gig economy.
Work and Pensions Committee news release and letters to Parcelforce and DPD. HR Grapevine. The Guardian. Risks 791. 11 March 2017

Britain: DX couriers launch legal battle for work rights
The union GMB is to start legal action on behalf of couriers working for the delivery company, DX. The union says it wants to “secure rights on pay, holidays, health and safety, discipline and grievances on behalf of members who work as couriers and drivers for DX.”
GMB news release. Leigh Day news release.
House of Commons business, energy and industrial strategy committee’s Future world of work and rights of workers inquiry hearings. Risks 791. 11 March 2017

Britain: GMB disappointed with Uber’s ‘cosmetic’ changes
Taxi firm Uber has missed a ‘golden opportunity’ to start complying with the law, the union GMB has said. The union, which last year won a groundbreaking employment rights legal case on behalf of Uber drivers, said it was disappointed with the ‘cosmetic’ changes introduced for Uber drivers.
Lawyer Monthly. Risks 789. 23 February 2017

Britain: JD Sports staff hospitalised 140 times in four years
At least 140 people have been taken to hospital after incidents at JD Sports’ controversial warehouse in Rochdale in the last four years. A freedom of information request obtained by the Guardian shows that ambulances have been dispatched to the site 166 times in the last four years, with 140 of these incidents leading to someone being transported to hospital.
The Guardian. Channel 4 News JD Sports investigation. Risk 786. 4 February 2017

Britain: Sports Direct modern slavery brothers jailed
Two brothers who trafficked 18 people from Poland to the UK and subjected them to violence and intimidation have been jailed. Erwin and Krystian Markowski, both from Nottingham, recruited the vulnerable men to work at the Sports Direct warehouse in Shirebrook, Derbyshire.
Nottinghamshire Police news release. BBC News Online. Risks 785. 28 January 2017

Britain: New labour tsar must investigate ASOS
The government’s labour market tsar must investigate working conditions at the online fashion retailer ASOS, the GMB has said. In a letter Sir David Metcalf, the newly appointed Director of Labour Market Enforcement, the union calls for an investigation into working practices at the giant ASOS warehouse in Barnsley.
GMB news release. Risks 784. 21 January 2017

Britain: Crisp firm fined for chopped fingers
A crisp and snacks manufacturer has been fined after an agency worker lost part of three fingers. Northampton Crown Court heard how the worker, working at Tayto Group Limited, was clearing a blockage of material from a machine on the production line when the worker’s hand came into contact with shears and three fingers on his right hand were severed, below the first knuckle.
HSE news release and work equipment webpages. Risks 784. 21 January 2017

Britain: Labour market watchdog needs to bear teeth
Naming and shaming rogue companies is not enough and bad bosses must be prosecuted, the GMB has said. The union was commenting after Sir David Metcalf was named by the government as the first director of labour market enforcement, and will oversee the work of three regulators - the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS), and the HMRC National Minimum Wage (HMRC-NMW) enforcement team.
Department for Business news release. GMB news releaseIoD news release. Morning Star. Risks 783. 14 January 2017

Britain: Labour market watchdog needs to bear teeth
Naming and shaming rogue companies is not enough and bad bosses must be prosecuted, the GMB has said. The union was commenting after Sir David Metcalf was named by the government as the first director of labour market enforcement, and will oversee the work of three regulators - the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS), and the HMRC National Minimum Wage (HMRC-NMW) enforcement team.
Department for Business news release. GMB news releaseIoD news release. Morning Star. Risks 783. 14 January 2017

Britain: Gangmasters settle modern slavery claim
Kent-based gangmaster DJ Houghton Chicken Catching Services has agreed to a landmark settlement worth more than £1m in compensation and legal costs for a group of migrants who were trafficked to work on farms producing eggs for high street brands. The deal reached with six Lithuanian chicken catchers is the first settlement of a claim against a British company in relation to modern slavery, and came after the group became frustrated at the lack of a criminal prosecution.
Leigh Day news release. The Guardian. Risks 782. 7 January 2017

Britain: Uber victory for workers
In a decision that has been welcomed by unions worldwide, a London employment tribunal has ruled that two drivers for cab-hailing firm Uber are entitled to holiday pay, paid rest breaks and at least the National Minimum Wage. The union GMB, which supported the claimants and which has been at the forefront of the campaign to expose employment conditions at Uber, described the 28 October tribunal ruling as a ‘monumental victory’.
GMB news release Leigh Day news release. ITF/ITUC news release. TUC news release. IUF news release. TUC Stronger Unions blog. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Personnel Today.
Add your name to the GMB's petition, calling on Uber to recognise the verdict, drop their appeal, and live up to their responsibility to their drivers. Risks 775. 5 November 2016

Britain: Unite to set up 'bogus self-employment' unit
Unite is to create a special ‘bogus self-employment’ unit to pursue employers who are ‘shamelessly dodging’ their responsibilities by classifying workers as self-employed. The announcement came after the union GMB won a landmark employment tribunal which ruled Uber drivers were workers rather than self-employed.
Unite news release. Risks 775. 5 November 2016

Britain: London mayor urged to tackle exploitative hotel work
London mayor Sadiq Khan has been urged by Unite to put his ‘economic fairness’ pledge to the top of the agenda by tackling the exploitative work practices in London’s hotel industry. The union call came ahead of the British Hospitality Association’s (BHA) ‘Big Hospitality Conversation’ event at city hall, promoting hospitality as a career choice.
Unite news release and Unethical London report. Risks 772. 15 October 2016

Britain: Migrant domestic workers need more protection
Urgent changes are needed to the UK visa system to protect migrant workers from being used as domestic slaves, a union-affiliated campaign group has warned. Justice 4 Domestic Workers is calling for a better deal for foreign workers, who are employed mainly as nannies or maids in private homes.
BBC News Online. BBC1 Inside Out. Justice for Domestic Workers UK. Risks 771. 8 October 2016

Canada: Temp death prompts new safety call
The death of a young woman killed when a conveyor belt caught her clothing at a Toronto factory has prompted renewed union calls for better safety protection for temporary workers. Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) said too many employers treat temp agency workers as a disposable commodity, relegating to them the most precarious and dangerous work, adding an ongoing review of Ontario’s employment laws “means we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring in sweeping changes and create the employment laws Ontario workers need, including holding all employers to account.”
USW Canada news release. OFL news release. Hamilton Spectator. Risks 679. 24 September 2016.

Britain: Sports Direct bows to pressure for independent review Sports Direct has bowed to shareholder and union pressure by agreeing to an independent review of its working practices and corporate governance. The move came after strong shareholder backing for an independent review at the Sports Direct AGM, with the company also saying a worker representative would be elected to the board by all staff “directly engaged or employed by Sports Direct”.
TUC news release. Unite news release. Sports Direct news release. The Guardian. LabourList. Risks 679. 24 September 2016.

Britain: Safety body wants anti-slavery action to spread
A newly published ‘enhanced’ registry identifying what over 500 UK companies are doing to prevent slavery and human trafficking should encourage other firms to follow suit, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has said. The safety professionals’ organisation was commenting after the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre published its new registry of 540 organisations that have produced anti-slavery disclosure statements for the 2015/16 financial year, a measure required for larger firms under the UK’s Modern Slavery Act 2015.
Business and Human Rights Resource Centre enhanced registry. IOSH news release. Risks 767. 10 September 2016

Britain: Workers face double jeopardy at Sports Direct
Skinflint retail giant Sports Direct has nearly twice the injury rate of the sector overall, according to a letter from a shareholders’ group. The 15 August letter came the same day the union Unite announced it had secured an estimated £1 million back pay from the firm for non-payment of the minimum wage.
Trade Union Share Owners letter, 15 August 2016. Sports Direct 2016 Annual Report. Unite news release. TUC news release. TUC Stronger Unions blog. Morning Star. Sky News. Risks 764. 20 August 2016

Britain: Racist abuse is a trade union issue
The TUC has called upon employers to combat the rising tide of racist abuse that has been reported following the EU referendum. According to a new TUC report, the UK has seen a major spike in reports of racist and xenophobic incidents since the referendum, with the National Police Chiefs’ Council reporting a 57 per cent increase in hate crime in the days following the referendum.
TUC guide. TUC Blog. TUC action plan. Risks 763. 13 August 2016

Global: Car giants linked to child mica miners
Some of the world’s biggest car makers including Vauxhall, BMW, Volkswagen and Audi are launching investigations into their paint supply chains after the Guardian linked their suppliers to illegal mines in India, where child labour and debt bondage are widespread. Children as young as 10 work at mines producing mica, a mineral that creates the shimmer in the car paint used on millions of vehicles around the world.
The Guardian. Risks 762. 6 August 2016

Britain: Safety body calls for anti-slavery 'race to the top'
The UK government has the opportunity to lead a ‘race to the top’ in tackling modern slavery, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has said. The safety body was commenting as the prime minister Theresa May marked the first anniversary of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 with the announcement of a new UK cabinet taskforce to tackle the “sickening and inhuman crimes.”
IOSH news release. PM Theresa May news release and Sunday Telegraph article. Risks 762. 6 August 2016

USA: New York nail salon workers win protection
All nail salons in New York State will be required to have ventilation systems to protect manicurists and others from the potentially dangerous health effects of chemicals used in nail products, the state’s governor has announced. The new rule is among the most sweeping changes in the state’s initiative, more than a year long, to make the industry safer and more equitable for workers, many of whom say they suffer ill-health effects as a result of their jobs.
Governor Andrew M Cuomo news release. NY Healthy Nail Salons Coalition news release. New York Times. Risks 761. 30 July 2016

Britain: MPs expose injustice of employment tribunal fees
Workers who have suffered mistreatment at the hands of their employers are being “priced out” of access to justice, MPs have concluded. A report by the Commons justice committee has revealed a “precipitous drop” of 67 per cent in the number of employment tribunal cases after new fees were set in 2013.
Justice Select Committee news release. UNISON news release. Thompsons Solicitors news release. Morning Star. Risks 756. 25 June 2016

Britain: ‘Worst gangmaster’ to pay for modern slavery
A British company has been found liable for the first time for victims of modern slavery. In a 10 June high court judgment, Justice Supperstone found in favour of six Lithuanian men who were trafficked to the UK and employed by the Kent-based gangmaster firm DJ Houghton Chicken Catching Services Ltd.
Leigh Day and Co news release. High Court judgment, 10 June 2016. The Guardian. Risks 755. 18 June 2016

Britain: Asos staff blow the whistle on bullying bosses
Thousands of workers at a huge warehouse used by online retailer Asos are being subjected to a catalogue of abuse by their anti-union bosses, a Morning Star investigation has found. More than 4,000 employees of the hugely popular clothing retailer suffer regular body searches, are spied on by an increasing number of CCTV cameras, and some have been forced to urinate at water stations because toilets were a 15-minute walk away.
Morning Star. Risks 754. 11 June 2016.

Britain: Plastics boss dodges jail for worker’s death
A plastics factory owner from Cambridgeshire has been fined and given a 15 month suspended jail term after a young worker died when she was crushed by printing machinery. Peterborough Crown Court heard how Zydre Groblyte, a 23-year-old agency worker from Lithuania, was working in a print room for Gordon Leach, who trades as RGE Engineering Company.
HSE news release and work equipment webpages. Cambridge News. Risks 751. 21 May 2016

Britain: Cargo firm fined for agency worker’s injuries
A Suffolk cargo handling company has been fined £100,000 after an agency worker suffered serious injuries when a sheet of marble weighing one tonne fell on him. Ipswich Crown Court heard how an employee of Extreme Handling Limited was working at GMA Warehousing and Transport Limited’s Felixstowe site.
HSE news release and forklift webpages. Risks 750. 14 May 2016

Global: Tell FIFA to stop World Cup exploitation
Amnesty International has exposed exploitation of migrant workers building the Khalifa International Stadium, a ground slated to host a football World Cup semi-final in 2022. ‘The ugly side of the beautiful game’, a report from the human rights organisation, says that despite promising to improve protections, Qatar has failed to adequately reform its exploitative migrant labour system.
Amnesty news release, report and online action call on FIFA and its sponsors to take a tougher line in making Qatar act now. TUC Stronger Unions blog. GMB news releaseRisks 745. 9 April 2016

Britain: Ashley called to account for Sports Direct abuses
A showdown is brewing between billionaire Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley, and MPs investigating mistreatment of workers in his sportswear empire. The House of Commons business (BIS) select committee has been trying to arrange a date for Ashley to give evidence on allegations of widespread abuses at the firm but, reports Unite regional officer Luke Primarolo, Ashley hasn’t been co-operative, so the committee has taken the unusual step of formally summonsing him to appear on 7 June.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. Unite Sports Direct campaign. Risks 744. 2 April 2016

Britain: UNISON to continue fight over tribunal fees
UNISON has welcomed a decision by the UK’s top court that means its fight can continue against imposition of ‘punitive’ fees to take a case to tribunal. The Supreme Court has granted the union permission to continue its legal challenge.
UNISON news release. Risks 741. 5 March 2016

Britain: Why no action on ‘worst UK gangmaster ever’?
A corporate accountability group has welcomed news that for the first time, a British businessman has been prosecuted and sentenced for human trafficking offences, but has questioned why there has been no prosecution in a similar case involving a company described by officials as the ‘worst UK gangmaster ever’. Marilyn Croser, director of CORE, the UK coalition on corporate accountability, said Lithuanian workers were trafficked to the UK and put to work in chicken farms by British company, DJ Houghton Catching Services Ltd and its director, Darrell Houghton, and company secretary, Jackie Judge.
CORE statement. Leigh Day news release. Risks 740. 27 February 2016

Britain: Bed firm boss jailed over 'slave workforce'
A factory owner who ran his bed-making business on a “slave workforce” of men paid as little £10 a day has been jailed for two years and three months. Mohammed Rafiq, 60, employed large numbers of Hungarians at his firm Kozee Sleep and its subsidiary Layzee Sleep, which supplied retailers like John Lewis, Next and Dunelm Mill – but their ethical audits failed to spot what was going on.
West Yorkshire Police news release. BBC News Online. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.

Britain: UK joins the fight to end modern slavery
The UK government has joined the vanguard of the fight against modern slavery, the TUC has said. Commenting after the UK became the third country after Niger and Norway to ratify a landmark International Labour Organisation (ILO) agreement to outlaw forced labour and modern slavery, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We welcome the Home Office’s move to ratify the ILO Forced Labour Protocol.”
TUC news release. TUC Touchstone blog. ILO news release, Forced labour protocol and recommendation and 50 for Freedom website. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.

Britain: ‘Slave workforce’ conviction at bed maker
A West Yorkshire businessman has been convicted of employing large numbers of Hungarian men as a “slave workforce” at the now defunct Kozee Sleep bed factory in Ravensthorpe, Dewsbury. Mohammed Rafiq, 60, was found guilty of conspiracy to commission a breach of UK immigration law and will be sentenced on 12 February. BBC News Online. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.

Britain: UCATT exposes hidden migrant site deaths toll
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is being urged to review urgently its work methods and record keeping, following new evidence on migrant worker deaths. An investigation by construction union UCATT has discovered that of the seven construction workers deaths in London in 2014/15, five of the victims were migrant workers.
UCATT news release. Construction Enquirer. Morning Star. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.

Britain: Government wrong to go easy on gangmasters
Construction union UCATT has warned that the government’s proposal to relax the licensing of gangmasters will lead to greater exploitation and the mistreatment of workers by employment agencies. The union was commenting on the government’s plans to reform the powers, function and scope of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), changes the TUC warned could increase exploitation of vulnerable workers.
UCATT news release. BIS/Home Office response to the consultation on tackling exploitation in the labour market. Risks 735. 23 January 2016

Britain: Firms fined for agency worker’s devastating injuries
Two companies have been fined after a construction worker suffered life changing injuries when he received an electric shock from an overhead power line. Ashley Coe, an agency worker working on site for Pascon Limited, was part of a group of workers laying cables in a trench for a British Solar Renewables Limited (BSR) windfarm when the incident happened on the 13 March 2013. 
HSE news release. BBC News Online. Western Morning News. Risks 734. 16 January 2016

Britain: Bad employers could benefit from gangmaster reforms
The TUC has raised serious concerns over government changes to the role of Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA). Commenting on the government’s 12 January announcement of its intention to reform the powers, function and scope of the GLA, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We are concerned that government proposals to make licensing more flexible will lead to fewer workplace inspections, leaving workers more vulnerable to exploitation.”
BIS/Home Office response to the consultation on tackling exploitation in the labour market. TUC news release. GLA news release. Risks 734. 16 January 2016

Britain: Sports Direct in the dock over treatment of workers
Sports Direct’s treatment of workers and poor corporate governance have been exposed this week at the start of criminal proceedings against the company’s chief executive, David Forsey. A protest was organised by the union Unite outside Chesterfield magistrates’ court to mark the start of proceedings.
Unite news release. Sign up to the online petition to Sports Direct chief executive David Forsey: Sports Direct: Stop your shameful work practices. Unite Sports Direct campaign. Risks 724. 17 October 2015.

Britain: Real resources are needed to tackle labour abuses
A proposed new labour standards tsar must be given the resources to effectively coordinate regulators and combat exploitative employers, the TUC has said. The union body was speaking out after the government opened a consultation on proposals to tackle the exploitation of workers, including a new position of Director of Labour Market Enforcement.
TUC news release. Labour market exploitation: improving enforcement, government consultation, ends 9 November 2015. Financial Times. Risks 724. 17 October 2015

Britain: Low pay is a workplace ‘well-being’ issue
In an increasing number of workplaces, workforce ‘well-being’ has become a favourite management preoccupation – often as a more palatable alternative to dealing with health and safety concerns, according to the TUC. But a new official report suggests employers may be ignoring the key driver of poor well-being – low pay. 
TUC Touchstone blog. Relationship between Wealth, Income and Personal Well-being, July 2011 to June 2012, ONS, September 2015. Low blow: Low paid work comes with high work risks, Hazards, October-December 2014. Risks 719. 12 September 2015

Britain: UNISON to continue tribunal fees fight
UNISON has vowed to go to country’s top court after the Court of Appeal rejected its appeal against the government’s introduction of ‘punitive’ employment tribunal fees. The Court of Appeal did describe the fees evidence as ‘troubling’ and expressed a “strong suspicion that so large a decline [in claims] is unlikely to be accounted for entirely by cases of ‘won’t pay’ and [that] it must also reflect at least some cases of ‘can’t pay’.”
UNISON news release. Court of Appeal judgment, 26 August 2015. Risks 718. 5 September 2015

Britain: Migrant workers and health and safety
‘Safety of migrant workers: A TUC guide for union activists’ has been produced to assist union workplace representatives in their work with migrant workers and to help protect the health, safety and welfare of these workers. The online guide deals with issues including employment status, risk assessments, accident reporting, welfare and first aid, personnel protective equipment, information and training, enforcement and working with others.
TUC publication alert, migrant workers health and safety webpages and full guide, Safety of migrant workers: A TUC guide for union activists, June 2015. Risks 705. 6 June 2015

Britain: Stickers on a hat don’t make sites safe
Multinational waste firm SITA Sembcorp UK is putting the largely migrant workforce constructing a Teesside facility at risk, the union GMB has said. Minutes of an April 2015 site safety meeting obtained by the union stipulate: “English speaking stickers to be applied to relevant hats”, adding: “Confirmation of 1 in 10… English speakers assigned to each working party.”
GMB news release. Risks 701. 9 May 2015

Britain: Union welcomes Labour’s plan to end exploitation
Construction union UCATT has welcomed a Labour commitment to introduce measures to crackdown on the exploitation of migrant workers in industries such as construction. Labour said it will establish a special Home Office Enforcement Unit with more than 100 staff to root out illegal exploitation that undercuts wages and conditions.
Labour Party news release. UCATT news release. Risks 699. 25 April 2015

Global: Fifa feels the heat on migrant workers’ plight
Football’s global governing body, Fifa, has been criticised for ignoring the plight of migrant workers enduring slave like conditions in Qatar. A Fifa taskforce reported on 24 February and recommended that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar should be moved to November and December, to avoid crippling summer temperatures, a move UCATT says fails to take into account that 2 million migrant workers, building the World Cup and the Qatar’s infrastructure, are working six days a week year round in temperatures which can reach 55 degrees celsius.
UCATT news release. BWI news release. The Guardian. Risks 693. 7 March 2015

UAE: Fire kills migrant labourers in Abu Dhabi
At least 10 migrant labourers have been killed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by a fire that tore through the warehouse they were sleeping in. The workers were staying in the al-Mussafah district of Abu Dhabi, an industrial area filled with warehouses, factories and workshops on the outskirts of the capital.
The Independent. Washington Post. Sydney Morning Herald. Risks 692. 28 February 2015

UAE: Migrants silenced on safety fears
Migrant workers building a multibillion-pound cultural hub in the United Arab Emirates, which includes a New York University campus and new Guggenheim and Louvre museums, are facing destitution, summary arrest and deportation if they complain about their squalid and unsafe conditions, an investigation by Human Rights Watch (HRW) has found.
HRW news release and video report. Migrant Workers’ Rights on Saadiyat Island in the United Arab Emirates, 2015 Progress Report, HRW, 10 February 2015. The Guardian. Risks 690. 14 February 2015

Britain: TUC talks the right language on migrant rights
New online guides from the TUC will help combat the exploitation of migrant workers, the union body has said. ‘Working in the UK’ is available in 13 languages, including Polish, Bulgarian and Romanian. The TUC says it provides workers with information and guidance on crucial issues such as pay, employment contracts, working hours, sick pay, and health and safety.
TUC news release. TUC Stronger Unions blog. The TUC Working in the UK guide is available in Polish, Romanian, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Slovakian, Russian, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, French and English. Risks 688. 31 January 2015

Britain: Slavery levels 'higher than thought'
There could be between 10,000 and 13,000 victims of slavery in the UK, higher than previous figures, an analysis for the Home Office suggests. Modern slavery victims are said to include women forced into prostitution, “imprisoned” domestic staff and workers in fields, factories and fishing boats.
Home Office news release and Modern Slavery BillAnti-Slavery International news releaseTUC Stronger Unions blogBBC News OnlineRisks 6836 December 2014

Global: Another reason TUC says ‘Playfair Qatar’
Abused migrant construction workers in Qatar have been arrested after striking against the exploitative conditions that have seen the massively wealthy nation condemned worldwide. It was the abuse of workers from South Asia that prompted the TUC to launch its ‘Playfair Qatar’ campaign.
TUC Stronger Unions blog and TUC Playfair Qatar campaignITUC news releaseRisks 6836 December 2014

Gulf: Call for better migrant worker protection
Labour ministers from Gulf and Asian countries have been urged to improve labour law protection, reform abusive immigration policies, and increase dialogue with trade unions and non-governmental groups. The call from 90 human rights organisations and unions came ahead of the third round of the Abu Dhabi Dialogue, an inter-regional forum on labour migration between Asian countries of origin and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries of destination.
ITUC news releaseHuman Rights Watch news releaseEqual TimesRisks 68229 November 2014

Britain: Police investigate slavery in UK fishing fleet
Police are investigating allegations of human trafficking and slavery in parts of Britain's fishing fleet. Among the claims are allegations that foreign fishermen suffering from exhaustion and malnutrition on UK-owned boats have leapt into the sea off the coast of Britain to escape abusive treatment on board.
The IndependentRisks 68229 November 2014

Britain: Labour would regulate 'rogue' job agencies
Labour says it would introduce a system of licensing to clamp down on “rogue” recruitment agencies. Ed Miliband said that some agencies break minimum wage laws and exploit workers by undercutting wages of permanent staff, adding Labour will not tolerate “a world of work that is becoming more brutal because of the way some cowboy employment agencies have been allowed to operate.”
Labour Party news releaseBBC News OnlineRisks 68229 November 2014

South Korea: End abuse of migrant agricultural workers
South Korea’s agriculture industry depends on migrant workers – but these suffer appalling living and working conditions. ‘Bitter harvest’, a new report from Amnesty International, says that government's Employment Permit Scheme (EPS) directly contributes to this exploitation.
IUF news reportAmnesty International news releaseSupport the Amnesty International campaignBitter Harvest [pdf], Amnesty International, October 2014 • http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/health-and-safety/risks-newsletter/risks-2014/tuc-risks-680-15-november-2014• 15 November 2014

Britain: Daughter’s grief at death of migrant worker mum
The daughter of a Lithuanian migrant worker killed by a tractor has spoken about her family’s suffering after a Lincolnshire farm was fined £100,000 for its criminal safety failings. Samanta Augulyte said the loss of her mother Asta Juodiene had left a “big wound” in her family’s hearts that “will not heal for a long time to come.”
HSE news release and reversing vehicles adviceMorning StarBoston TargetLincolnshire EchoBBC News OnlineRisks 6652 August 2014

Turkey: Death payout after unregistered worker dies
A court in Istanbul has ruled that a Turkish company that employed an unregistered worker from Türkmenistan, but disowned him after he died in a work-related incident, must pay record compensation to his family. It follows an earlier court ruling that the incident was work-related, paving the way for Turkey’s Social Security Institution (SGK) to pay 750 liras (£200) to Avganov’s wife every month until she remarries or dies.
Hurriyet Daily NewsRisks 66212 July 2014

Britain: Migrant domestic workers face serious abuse
Migrant domestic workers accompanying their employers to the United Kingdom are being subjected to serious abuses including forced labour, according to a new Human Rights Watch (HRW) report. The report concludes the UK government is doing far too little to protect vulnerable workers, with recent changes to UK immigration rules making it harder for workers to flee abuse.
HRW news release, video and report, Hidden Away: Abuses against Migrant Domestic Workers in the UKThe IndependentRisks 6495 April 2014

Britain: New call for gangmaster protection in construction
Construction union UCATT has welcomed a call for the scope of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) to be extended to the industry. A new report, ‘Preventing trafficking for labour exploitation’, published by Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX), echoes union calls for the GLA’s regulatory protection to be extended to high risk labour sectors such as construction, care, cleaning and hospitality.
Preventing Trafficking for Labour Exploitation, Caroline Robinson, Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX), March 2014. UCATT news releaseHuffington PostRisks 6495 April 2014

Britain: Agency worker injured in poorly guarded machine
A Welwyn Garden City manufacturing firm has been prosecuted after an agency worker suffered a hand injury when clearing a blockage on a poorly-guarded palletiser machine. The 33-year-old worker, who does not wish to be named, was attempting to restart a machine at Sika Ltd’s factory after dealing with the blockage when his right hand was struck by a moving part.
HSE news release and manufacturing webpagesRisks 64722 March 2014

Britain: Workers still at risk 10 years on from Morecambe Bay
A decade on from the tragedy at Morecambe Bay which saw 23 Chinese workers lose their lives, vulnerable workers are still at risk of abuse, injury and even death at work, the TUC has warned. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Instead of reducing the GLA’s ability to protect workers, the biggest testament the government could pay to what happened at Morecambe Bay would be to extend the reach of the GLA so that rogue employers know that there is no hiding place for those who break the law.”
TUC news releaseBBC News OnlineRisks 6418 February 2014

Britain: GLA powers are ‘inadequate’, says Unite
The scope and powers of The Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) need to be expanded, Unite has said. The union said undetected abuses by gangmasters were the equivalent of ‘modern day slavery’. It said the fact that only seven gangmasters were convicted for operating without a licence in 2013 prompted the Unite call for more GLA investigations and for prosecutors to get tough with rogue gangmasters.
Unite news releaseEarly Day Motion by Jim Sheridan MP calling for remit of the authority to be extended to other sectorsRisks 6418 February 2014

Qatar: The shocking death toll of World Cup migrants
The extent of the risks faced by migrant construction workers building the infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar has been laid bare by official documents revealing that 185 Nepalese men died last year alone. The Guardian reports that the 2013 death toll, which is expected to rise as new cases come to light, is likely to spark fresh concern over the treatment of migrant workers in Qatar and increase the pressure on football’s governing body Fifa to force meaningful change.
The Guardian • Risks 6401 February 2014

USA: Safety watchdog acts to protect whistleblowers
US workers who have been victimised - or fear they will be - for reporting unsafe conditions to their employers can now go to a new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) whistleblower site to file complaints. OSHA director Dr David Michaels explained: “The ability of workers to speak out and exercise their rights without fear of retaliation provides the backbone for some of American workers’ most essential protections.”
OSHA news release, OSHA online whistleblower complaint form and whistleblowers webpageAFL-CIO Now blogRisks 63514 December 2013

Britain: Illegal violent gangmaster jailed for seven years
Lithuanian national Audrius Morkunas, who operated as an unlicensed gangmaster and terrorised and exploited migrant workers, has been jailed for seven years. Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) chief executive Paul Broadbent said: “I take great satisfaction from the fact that these workers are now free from his aggression and exploitation and that our investigation has resulted in a substantial custodial sentence.”
GLA news releaseBBC News OnlineRisks 63514 December 2013

Britain: Top Tory calls for gangmaster clampdown
David Cameron should listen to Conservatives in the capital and extend protection from abusive gangmasters to workers in hospitality and construction, site union UCATT has said. The union was speaking out after Andrew Boff, the leader of the Conservative group on the London Assembly, published a report supporting an extended role for the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA).
UCATT news releaseGreater London Authority news release and full report, Shadow City – Exposing human trafficking in everyday LondonRisks 62719 October 2013

Britain: Labour crackdown on bogus self-employment
Construction union UCATT has welcomed Labour’s announcement that the next Labour government will crackdown on false self-employment in the construction industry. Steve Murphy, general secretary of UCATT, said: “I want to congratulate the shadow Treasury team for this pro-active policy, which will have a real impact on the lives of construction workers.”
UCATT news releaseConstruction EnquirerRisks 62428 September 2013

Britain: Government move will embolden rogue agencies
The TUC has slammed the announcement by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) that it is to reduce the role of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA). Under plans published on 27 August, the GLA will no longer have powers to regulate the forestry sector, land agents and cleaning contractors operating in the food processing industry, with agencies in these sectors will no longer have to get a GLA licence before they start operating or be subject to inspections by the GLA.
TUC news releaseDefra response to GLA consultationRisks 62031 August 2013

Britain: Illegal gangmaster ‘got off lightly’, says GLA chief
The chief executive of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) has said the suspended jail sentence imposed on a Wiltshire-based recruitment consultant - who systematically exploited around 60 Filipino workers and illegally supplied them to
dairy farms across the UK - does not “fit the crime‟. Christopher James Blakeney – who admits he made £700,000 from the crimes - was handed 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years for each of four counts of acting as an unlicensed gangmaster, the sentences to run concurrently.
GLA news releaseRisks 61817 August 2013

Britain: Unions protest over new tribunal fees
Union protests marked the introduction on 29 July of new fees of up to £1,200 for workers taking employment tribunal cases against their employers. The charges apply to tribunal complaints about issues including victimisation for safety activities, sexual harassment or race discrimination. has given a green light to bad employers to continue exploiting their staff.”
TUC news releaseTUC Touchstone blogUnite news releaseGMB news releaseBECTU news releaseThe GuardianThe MirrorRisks 6163 August 2013

New gangmaster rules mean more rogue agencies
A Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) announcement that it is to stop carrying out automatic inspections of all companies applying for a new GLA licence could lead to an increase in rogue employment agencies, the TUC has warned. From October the GLA will no longer automatically send an inspector to check that agency workers are being paid properly and working under safe conditions before it grants a business or employment agency a licence to operate - instead, these checks will become “discretionary”.
TUC news releaseGLA news releaseRisks 61527 July 2013

Britain: Concern at cuts in vulnerable worker protection
Planned government cuts to the watchdog set up to protect vulnerable workers after the drowning deaths of 23 migrant cockle pickers have been criticised by the TUC. The TUC says it is “seriously concerned” by proposals aimed at limiting inspections by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) and weakening its licensing system.
TUC briefing and TUC response to the GLA Application and Inspections ConsultationRisks 61313 July 2013

Britain: A weak watchdog will strengthen rogue gangmasters
Government plans to weaken the Gangmasters Licensing Authority have been condemned by the TUC. In an online commentary, TUC’s Ben Moxham said reducing controls is likely to lead to an increase in rogue gangmasters, adding: “This will undermine the effectiveness of the GLA in tackling tax evasion and in raising compliance with basic employment and health and safety standards.”
TUC Touchstone blog and submission to the GLA inquiryRisks 60120 April 2013

Britain: Deregulating agency work a mistake
Government plans to repeal regulations which control how employment agencies operate and replace them with a system of self-regulation will lead to more exploitation, the construction union UCATT has warned. Under the government’s proposals included in a consultation by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) which closed on 11 April, the Employment Agencies Act and the existing regulations covering employment agencies would be scrapped.
UCATT news release and full consultation responseRisks 60120 April 2013

Thailand: Activist sued for criticising work abuses
A prominent British human rights activist could face a lengthy prison term and a multi-million pound fine, after co-authoring a report that said a Thai food company abused migrant labour at one of its factories. Andy Hall has been charged with broadcasting false statements under Thailand's Computer Crime Act, a charge that carries a maximum jail term of two years; the 32-year-old has also been charged with defaming and damaging the Natural Fruit Company.
Daily TelegraphBangkok PostPrachtaiRisks 5969 March 2013

Britain: Government 'reckless' on equality checks
The TUC has accused David Cameron of being ‘reckless’ after he announced plans to scrap the requirement on government departments and other public bodies to undertake equality impact assessments before the introduction of policy changes.
TUC news releaseDavid Cameron’s speech to the CBI conferenceMorning StarRisks 58324 November 2012

Britain: Workers trafficked and beaten
A gangmaster has had its licence revoked after a joint operation by Kent police, the Gangmasters Licensing Authority and the Serious Organised Crime Agency to liberate more than 30 Lithuanian workers who are alleged to have been trafficked in to the UK. The GuardianRisks 5803 November 2012

Britain: Agency worker regulations criticised by Unite
Unite has warned against complacency as many agency workers are being poorly treated, the current  Agency regulations have too many loopholes and the enforcement of the legislation is not strong enough. An independent survey by Unite showed that in the vast majority of workplaces that employ agency workers (78 per cent of those surveyed) these workers are still second class and are not getting equal treatment.
Unite news releaseRisks 5803 November 2012

Canada: Immigrants face greater injury risk
Recent immigrants who take jobs for which they are over-qualified are more than three times as likely to sustain an injury at work as their appropriately qualified peers who have been in the country for some time, Canadian researchers have found.  Those who are over-educated may not have the knowledge and skills required to perform their job safely, say the authors, and language barriers and lack of familiarity with the country may get in the way of being able to understand or voice health and safety concerns, they suggest.
Stephanie Premji and Peter M Smith, Education-to-job mismatch and the risk of work injury, Injury Prevention, Published Online First: 9 July 2012 [abstract] • Risks 56414 July 2012

Britain: UCATT welcomes Labour gangmaster pledge
Construction union UCATT have welcomed a commitment by Ed Miliband to extend the reach of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA). The Labour leader made the pledge in a 22 June speech on immigration policy to the IPPR thinktank, promising to extend the scope of GLA to all sectors where workers are being exploited.
UCATT news releasePeople ManagementThe GuardianMorning StarRisks 56230 June 2012

Britain: Unpaid labour firm in minibus smash
The security company at the centre of a row about its treatment of unpaid workers has faced fresh questions after a minibus carrying 15 of its stewards overturned on a motorway and its driver was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving. Close Protection UK Ltd, which apologised after unpaid stewards employed on a £500,000 contract for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations were forced to sleep under London Bridge in abysmal weather, confirmed that all the people on board the vehicle were its employees.
The IndependentMorning StarRisks 56016 June 2012

Britain: Scaling back gangmaster watchdog invites exploitation
Fruit pickers, shellfish gatherers and farm labourers could be at greater risk of exploitation under plans to reduce regulation of gangmasters, unions have warned.
Ministers want to scrap automatic inspections for businesses applying to use or supply groups of workers.
TUC news releaseDefra announcementBBC News OnlineRisks 5582 June 2012

Britain: Vulnerable worker protection must be widened
The government should act urgently to stop the widespread abuse of foreign workers, according to a University of Manchester crime expert. Professor Kauko Aromaa from the university’s School of Law says gangmasters’ legislation drawn up after the 2004 Morecambe Bay disaster in which 23 cocklers are believed to have died could be widened to include other employment sectors.
Manchester University news releaseRisks 55726 May 2012

Britain: ‘Rank exploitation’ blights the food sector
Migrant workers continue to live and work in inhuman conditions and indebted to gangmasters, a study has found. Researchers from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation conducted one of the largest studies into conditions experienced by workers in the food sector, from farm and factory workers through to those toiling in restaurants.
JRF news release. Sam Scott and others. Experiences of forced labour in the UK food industry, JRF, 15 May 2012 , summary [pdf], full report [pdf] and e-book [pdf] • TUC news releaseUnite news releaseBIS news release on the government announcement of a new Groceries Code AdjudicatorThe IndependentRisks 55619 May 2012

Australia: Toyota faces legal action safety rep sackings
Toyota in Australia targeted safety reps and shop stewards for redundancy because of their union activity, industrial union AMWU has charged. AMWU’s David Smith said the treatment of unionised workers and health and safety representatives was disgusting and could have wider ramifications.
AMWU news releaseMaurice Blackburn Lawyers news releaseGoogle NewsHerald SunRisks 55328 April 2012

Russia: Migrant workers die in blaze
At least 17 migrant workers have been killed by a fire that swept through a market warehouse in southern Moscow. The victims are believed to be market traders from former Soviet states who were staying in a metal storage warehouse at a construction materials market which “was not meant for people to live in,” Sergei Gorbunov of the fire department said.
Itar-Tass reportBBC News OnlineRisks 5507 April 2012

Britain: Law fails blacklisted agency worker
The construction giant Carillion has admitted a construction worker was blacklisted because of his trade union activities and efforts to improve site safety, but has escaped responsibility because he was an agency worker. The revelation came during an employment tribunal brought against the firm by engineer and former UCATT safety rep Dave Smith.
Blacklist blogDaily MirrorConstruction EnquirerMorning StarSocialist WorkerRisks 54028 January 2011

Britain: Human traffic report highlights work abuses
A report into human trafficking in Scotland demonstrates the need for the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) to extend its coverage to a wider range of industries, construction union UCATT has said. The union was commenting on publication of the report of an inquiry into human trafficking in Scotland, undertaken by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC for the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
EHRC news release and full reportUCATT news releaseRisks 53510 December 2011

Britain: Work stress soars with job insecurity
Stress is now the number one cause of long-term absence across a workforce increasingly affected by job insecurity, a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) survey has found. The CIPD/Simplyhealth Absence Management survey concludes that for the first time stress is the most common cause of long-term sickness absence for both manual and non-manual employees.
CIPD news releaseTUC news releaseDaily MailRisks 5268 October 2011

Britain: Warning on ‘dangerous and unregulated’ site work
Almost one in every five workers is now classified as ‘vulnerable’, a report for construction union UCATT has found. Based on a review of the current enforcement regime and interviews with construction workers, ‘The hidden workforce building Britain’ says many are working in “slavery like” conditions, wait in car parks to get work as day labourers and are typically employed in dangerous and unregulated work.
UCATT news release and the full report, The hidden workforce building Britain: Exposing exploitation and protecting vulnerable workers in construction [pdf] • Risks 5268 October 2011

Britain: New rights for agency workers
Hundreds of thousands of agency workers across the UK will benefit from improved working conditions as a result of new equal treatment rights for temps. Although general health and safety laws apply to all workers regardless of their employment status, the new law will deliver some new rights on working hours and facilities that do fall in part under a workplace safety heading.
TUC news release and agency worker adviceCWU news releaseRisks 5251 October 2011

Britain: Don’t make slaves of migrant domestic workers
Government plans to dramatically curtail the rights of migrant domestic workers “will return us to slavery”, campaigners have warned. Workers’ rights groups and unions backed a 4 September rally in London to protest at legal changes outlined in a Home Office consultation document.
TUC Touchstone blogUnite news releaseKalayaan news releaseHome Office consultationBBC News OnlineRisks 52210 September 2011

USA: Bad jobs and brain disease in the slaughterhouse
Immigrant workers on poverty wages have been recruited for the dirtiest, most dangerous jobs in the industrial production of Spam – and some developed a deadly work-related brain disease as a result. ‘The Spam Factory's Dirty Secret,’ a feature in the US magazine Mother Jones, relates the recent troubled history of the Hormel Foods plant in Austin, Minnesota.
Mother JonesIn These TimesRisks 518 13 August 2011

Britain: TUC microsite will help vulnerable workers
A new online resource aims to help ‘vulnerable’ workers obtain details on their employment and safety rights at work. The TUC says it Basic Rights @ Work microsite will introduce these vulnerable workers to information about employment rights in the UK and how to enforce these rights through statutory enforcement bodies.
TUC news release and Basic Rights @ Work microsite, including the health and safety section and HSE videoRisks 51813 August 2011

Britain: Labour rights reminder in M&S flashdance
Shareholders attending the London AGM of high street store M&S were greeted with a song and dance protest at the labour abuses at one of its major suppliers. Unite activists reprised a musical number seen recently in flashmobs at M&S stories, drawing attention to low pay and insecure labour at Thanet Earth.
Unite news release and musical protestRisks 51416 July 2011

Britain: Risks stacked against new workers
Workers are as likely to suffer a reportable injury in the first six months at a workplace as during the whole of the rest of their working life, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned. The safety watchdog says a number of factors contribute to the excess risk, including lack of experience at or familiarity with the job and workplace.
HSE ‘new to the job’ guideRisks 515 11 June 2011

Unite welcomes Crossrail no bogus jobs pledge
A commitment by Crossrail to use a properly trained, directly employed workforce for the construction of the cross-London rail project has been welcomed by Unite, which says it will work with the company to make sure it also has ‘gold standards’ of safety.
Unite news releaseBuildRisks 51511 June 2011

USA: Union protection against sex assaults
A hotel worker who spoke out after an alleged serious sexual assault by former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn  may have been able to do so because she was protected by union membership. The 32-year-old housekeeper, originally from Guinea, was employed at New York’s Sofitel Hotel, where staff are represented by the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council.
New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council editorialIn These TimesAlternetIPS NewsNew York TimesRisks 5084 June 2011

USA: Can the Feds tackle labour trafficking?
Last year, the leaders of the US-based foreign labour supply company Global Horizons were indicted in what the Department of Justice considered the biggest human trafficking case ever brought by the federal government. They were charged with holding 400 Thai guest farm workers in the United States against their will in conditions that essentially amounted to slavery.
In These TimesFLOCRisks 5084 June 2011

Britain: Put agency workers on fair ground
Retail union Usdaw is campaigning for a fair deal for agency workers. It’s ‘Put Agency Workers on Fair Ground’ campaign says the UK has the highest use of agency workers across all of the major industrial countries – higher than Japan, the USA and the whole of Europe.
Put Agency Workers on Fair Ground website and related facebook groupRisks 5084 June 2011

Global: Warning on Qatar World Cup exploitation
Unions worldwide have warned against the exploitation of migrant workers on the ‘unsafe and unregulated’ construction sites set to build the facilities for the 2022 football World Cup. With twelve new football stadiums required for the 2022 event in Qatar, unions are pressing FIFA and Qatar 2022 to improve the ‘appalling’ living and working conditions experienced by migrant workers in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
TUC news releaseITUC news releaseBWI news release• Hidden faces of the Gulf miracle - full report and short and long versions of the video Hidden faces of the gulf miracleRisks 5084 June 2011

Britain: Unite warning on greenhouse exploitation
Britain’s largest greenhouse complex and the supermarkets it supplies have been warned Unite is prepared to escalate its campaign against exploitation of the workers employed to harvest crops. Kent based agricultural producer Thanet Earth is accused by the union of operating a system of “permanent casualisation”.
Unite news release and Ethical Trading Initiative base codeRisks 50514 May 2011

Britain: Greenhouse giant probed for 'sweatshop labour'
Working conditions at Britain's largest greenhouse complex Thanet Earth are being investigated by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) after the union Unite claimed agency workers at the vegetable growing site in Kent are being treated like “sweatshop labour.”
Unite news releaseBBC News OnlineThe GuardianEthical Trading Initiative base-codeRisks 504 7 May 2011

Japan: Temp workers suffer nuclear fall out
Unions have long contended that precarious workers have higher rates of injuries and illness on the job. Now global union federation IUF is warning precarious work is also the hidden underside of the Japanese nuclear power industry, where contract workers have an average level of radiation exposure 16 times that of the small layer of permanent workers.
IUF news reportNew York TimesAsahi ShimbunBBC News Online
IMF precarious work webpagesRisks 50216 April 2011

Britain: Agencies make workers pay for protection
Employment agencies are ignoring safety laws and requiring staff to stump up for their protective equipment, construction union UCATT has revealed. UCATT says its officials “have become increasingly alarmed that many employment agencies require construction workers to supply their own personal protective equipment (PPE) or alternatively charge the worker if they supply it.”
UCATT news releaseRisks 49926 March 2011

Thailand: Court orders injured worker to be unchained
A court in Thailand has told the authorities to release a seriously injured Burmese migrant worker who had been chained to his hospital bed. The Southern Bangkok Criminal Court last week ordered the Immigration Bureau to release immediately Chalee Diyoo, 33.
The NationRisks 49526 February 2011

Thailand: Injured migrant chained to hospital bed
A Burmese migrant worker who suffered horrifying injuries on a construction site in Thailand has been chained to his hospital bed by the police. Charlie Deeyu, 25, who was working in the country illegally and now faces deportation, is being treated at Police General Hospital in Bangkok.
HRDF news releaseBWI ConnectBangkok PostRisks 49312 February 2011

Britain: Government plans attack on vulnerable workers
Sick workers and those wanting to seek redress for unfair dismissal are among those targeted in what has been dubbed the government’s ‘employers’ charter’. Press reports suggest ministers are intending to extend the period when employers can dismiss workers without being subject to a claim for unfair dismissal, considering introducing fees for workers taking claims to an employment tribunal and reducing the period when statutory sick pay is payable.
TUC Touchstone blogTUC news releaseUCATT news releaseThe TelegraphRisks 48915 January 2011

Britain: Minister sides with rogue gangmasters
Construction union UCATT has condemned a government minister for resorting to the use of “myths and factual inaccuracies” to justify a refusal to extend gangmaster regulation to the notoriously hazardous construction industry. Junior minister Ed Davey was responding to David Hamilton’s 3 December Private Member’s Bill to extend the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act to the construction industry.
UCATT news releaseHansard, 3 December 2010Gangmasters Licensing (Extension to Construction Industry) Bill 2010-11Risks 48611 December 2010

Australia: Migrant victims of cut-price industry
Myung Yeol Hwang, a tiler from South Korea, died on 27 August, the day after he walked into the Sydney office of the country's biggest construction union, destitute and in dire need of medical help. CFMEWU hurriedly arranged an Immigration Department meeting to try to get the sick man a bridging visa and some medical treatment the next morning, but the 51-year-old died before he could make it to those meetings.
Sydney Morning HeraldABC NewsBrisbane TimesRisks 475 • 25 September 2010

Britain: Modern-day ‘slaves’ face brutal treatment
Thousands of foreign domestic workers are being abused sexually, physically and psychologically by employers, according to an investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches team. “The first thing to understand when we're talking about slavery is that we're not using a metaphor,” said Aidan McQuade from Anti-Slavery International.
DispatchesThe GuardianAnti-Slavery International action call to the government on domestic slavery and YouTube filmRisks 472 • 4 September 2010

Britain: Gangmaster ‘trapped’ workers in squalor
A Lancashire gangmaster has had its licence revoked after it was found workers were “trapped” in dangerous and squalid conditions as a result of illegally low pay. Latvian workers with Plus Staff 24 Ltd, based in Skelmersdale, lived in “filthy and dangerous houses without suitable bedding and any electrical safety documentation whilst having to use a toilet covered in mould.”
GLA news releaseBBC News Online •  Risks 469 • 14 August 2010

Britain: Site death fine increased eight-fold
A building firm has had a fine following the death of a worker increased eight-fold by appeal court judges in Scotland. Discovery Homes (Scotland) Ltd was originally fined £5,000 after admitting a criminal safety breach linked to the death of bricklayer Andrezej Freitag, 55.
Scottish Appeal Court judgmentSTV NewsRisks 459 • 5 June 2010

Britain: UCATT calls for more site protection
Construction union UCATT has vowed to keep the pressure on government over blacklisting and bogus self-employment.
Morning StarRisks 457 • 22 May 2010

Global: New impetus to end child labour
Amid growing concerns over the impact of the economic downturn, the International Labour Office (ILO) has warned that efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour are slowing down and has called for a “re-energised” global campaign to end the practice. On 11 May, more than 450 delegates from 80 countries attending the global child labour conference in The Hague agreed on a ‘Roadmap’ aimed at “substantially increasing” global efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour by 2016.
ILO news release, child labour conference website, conference news release and Roadmap [pdf] • Accelerating action against child labour, ILO, May 2010 • Risks 456 • 15 May 2010

Britain: Temp’s lack of training led to injury
A GMB member who suffered a broken jaw and lost seven teeth in while on placement from an employment agency has received £47,500 in compensation. John McFarlane, 42, from Washington was hit in the mouth by a tool called a warwick after he was forced to work on his own in a new temp placement, after just two days of a promised seven day training programme.
Thompsons Solicitors news releaseRisks 456 • 15 May 2010

Britain: HSE targets meat industry risks
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued new instructions to inspectors on how to police safety at meat and poultry factories. The move follows an official inquiry that uncovered widespread mistreatment and exploitation of migrant and agency workers in the meat and poultry processing sector.
Usdaw information noteInspection of meat/poultry factories 2010/11, SIM 01/2010/01, HSE • Risks 453 • 24 April 2010

Britain: Fruit firm fined for Polish worker abuse
A Scottish fruit farm where workers were forced to live in appalling conditions has been ordered to pay more than £26,000 to two fruit pickers. David Leslie Fruits was told to pay the cash to Polish students Tomasz Kowal and Michal Obieglo for withholding wages and racial discrimination.
Press and JournalDaily RecordBBC News OnlineRisks 451 • 10 April 2010

Britain: Vulnerable meat workers 'exploited'
An official inquiry has uncovered widespread mistreatment and exploitation of migrant and agency workers in the meat and poultry processing sector. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) investigation found workers reported physical and verbal abuse and a lack of proper health and safety protection.
EHRC news release and report [pdf] •   Unite news releaseThe GuardianBBC News OnlineRisks 448 • 20 March 2010

Britain: Project to help vulnerable site workers
Construction union UCATT has launched a project to provide assistance to construction workers facing exploitation or forced to work in dangerous circumstances. The Vulnerable Workers Project, which will run for two years throughout England, is funded by the government’s Union Modernisation Fund.
UCATT news releaseRisks 445 • 27 February 2010

USA: Black workers put in radiation risk jobs
The Studsvik Memphis Processing Facility in Tennessee, a US company that processes nuclear waste, has agreed to settle compensation claims with black employees who were assigned to jobs with higher radiation exposures but who then had their dose meters doctored to show lower exposure levels. “Some of the discrimination allege d in this case is unusually extreme because of the physical danger it created for African American employees,” said Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC) acting chair Stuart J Ishimaru.
EEOC news releaseMemphis Commercial AppealUPI.comRisks 440 • 23 January 2010

Britain: Immigrant workers 'living in sheds'
More than 1,000 migrant workers across Slough are thought to be living in sheds in people's back gardens. Slough Borough Council housing standards manager, Keith Ford, said many of the immigrants were living in the sheds without proper sanitation and were “being exploited”.
BBC News OnlineFinancial TimesRisks 437 • 19 December 2009

Britain: Site employers lie to evade gangmaster rules
Major construction contractors have lied about possible costs of applying the Gangmasters Licensing Act (GLA) to the sector, UCATT has charged. The construction union says a claim by the UK Contractors Group (UKCG) that the extension of the law would mean “a lot of cost for contractors” is without foundation.
UCATT news releaseMorning StarConstruction NewsRisks 427 • 10 October 2009

Britain: Labour Party backs gangmaster law on sites
Construction union UCATT has received a significant boost in its campaign to have the Gangmasters Licensing Act (GLA) extended to the construction industry. The Labour Party’s conference this week backed a call for legal protection under the GLA to cover site workers.
UCATT news releaseMorning StarRisks 426 • 4 October 2009

Britain: New protection for migrant workers
The government has introduced measures to help protect migrants from being forced to work in dangerous conditions for poor wages. Communities secretary John Denham said this exploitation could also undercut local workers and cause resentment.
DCLG news releaseRisks 426 • 4 October 2009

Britain: Flurry of action on bad gangmasters
Three gangmasters have had their licences revoked this month and a fourth has been fined for operating without a licence.
GLA news releases on the cockling and flower picking gangmaster actions • BBC News OnlineWales OnlineRisks 424 • 19 September 2009

Britain: Site abuses show need for gangmaster action
Construction union UCATT has renewed its call for gangmasters legislation to be extended to construction. The move follows an investigation by The Observer that revealed workers on the East London line extension had been “conned” out of wages by Paul Singh, a gangmaster who pocketed hundreds of thousands for their labour.
UCATT news releaseThe ObserverBuilder and EngineerRisks 423 • 12 September 2009

Korea: Stress killed insecure worker            
A Korean court has ruled that an employer is liable for the death of a female worker who died of stress caused by job insecurity. Judge Seo Tae-hwan of the Seoul Administrative Court said in the ruling: “It’s apparent that the deceased was under extreme stress over her job insecurity for five years during which she was a non-permanent worker at Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO).”
Korea Times • 5 September 2009

Britain: Poor protection leads to turkey firm fine
A food firm has fined after an agency worker who had not been provided with a protective apron accidentally stabbed himself with a knife – the fourth stabbing incident at the firm. Robert Bogdan, from Hungary, suffered a 4 inch-deep stab wound while working on the turkey processing line at Cranberry Foods in Scropton in August 2008.
HSE news release • Burton Mail • 5 September 2009

Italy: Union organisers take to the tomato fields
Every summer around 50,000 migrant workers, many of them undocumented, are brought by labour agents to Italy for the tomato harvest. But unions say the workers who harvest the tomatoes work in dangerous conditions often in breach of Italian labour law.
IUF news releaseRisks 420 • 22 August 2009

Britain: Gangmasters 'continue to exploit'
Gangmasters are still putting workers' lives at risk, according to a report from the charity Oxfam. It comes five years after 23 Chinese cockle pickers died in Morecambe Bay. Oxfam’s ‘Turning the tide’ report concluded government regulation is helping but there are still people working in dangerous environments for as little as £50 for seven days' work. 
Oxfam report webpage, summary [pdf], full report [pdf] and video reportBBC News OnlineRisks 418 • 8 August 2009

Global: Temps get worse conditions
Temporary workers face worse conditions in their jobs, new studies from France and Japan have confirmed.
REHS news report  • Japan TimeRisks 416 • 25 July 2009

Britain: Crackdown looms on bogus self-employment
Construction union UCATT have given a cautious welcome to the announcement of a Treasury consultation aimed at reducing bogus self-employment in the construction industry. The union says bogus self-employment occurs when workers are officially classified as self-employed but have all the normal working relationships of an employee – but none of the rights.
False self-employment in construction: taxation of workers, Treasury consultation, ends 12 October 2009 • UCATT news releaseContract JournalRisks 416 • 25 July 2009

Australia: Casual work upsets mental health
Men who work in full-time casual jobs report significantly lower levels of mental health than those who are permanently employed.
The AgeProject briefing • Does casual employment affect workers' self-rated health? The case of Australia, Guangyu Zhang and Sue Richardson, Flinders University, 2009 [abstract] • IMF precarious work campaignRisks 415 • 18 July 2009

Britain: Firm fined for migrant’s shredder horror
A firm that makes bedding for pets has been fined after a Polish worker was serious injured in a shredder. Snowflake Animal Bedding Ltd, which is based in Ashton-under-Lyne, was fined £13,300 and ordered to pay full costs of £8,655.16p at Boston Magistrates’ Court.
HSE news release and migrant workers and forklifts webpages • Risks 412 • 27 June 2009

Britain: HSE wrong on bogus employment deaths
Construction union UCATT has accused the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) of failing to track accurately the deadly impact of bogus self-employment in the sector. It said the watchdog’s failure became apparent during an evidence session of the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee last week.
UCATT news releaseRisks 411 • 20 June 2009

Britain: Move to control site gangmasters
Unions are calling for legislation to regulate gangmasters operating in the UK construction industry. Labour MP Jim Sheridan’s 10 minute rule bill proposes extending the legislation to cover construction and is backed by unions in the sector.
Unite news releaseUCATT news releaseNew Civil Engineer. Construction NewsRisks 411 • 20 June 2009

Britain: Send girls to school not work
The TUC is calling on consumers to demand that international supply chains making sportswear and goods for the London 2012 Olympics bring an end to girls' child labour, and provide primary education for all children around the world. A TUC report also reveals that while less than half of all child workers are girls – totalling about 100 million - they are disproportionately represented in the worst forms of work.
TUC news release and report [pdf] • ITUC YouTube video report on child labour
ILO news release and World Day Against Child Labour, 12 JuneRisks 411 • 20 June 2009

Britain: Polish workers 'exploited' by gangmaster
A gangmaster has been stripped of his licence after a seven week investigation identified a catalogue of safety and employment abuses. Jagjit Singh, who ran Saphire Trading in Southampton, is said to have created an “atmosphere of fear and intimidation in the workplace.”
GLA news releaseBBC News OnlineRisks 408 • 30 May 2009

Britain: Polish worker electrocuted on farm
A fruit farmer has been fined less than £10,000 after a Polish berry picker was killed by an 11,000 volt shock from an overhead cable. Farmer Peter Thomson had been warned about the danger just two weeks before the tragedy, but took no action.
HSE news release and electricity webpagesBBC News OnlineDaily RecordRisks 408 • 30 May 2009

Britain: New rights plan for agency workers
Agency workers are set to get the same pay and conditions as permanent staff, the government has said. Launching a consultation on the changes, the government said the new rights would build on last year's agreement between TUC and Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
BERR news releaseTUC news releaseUnite news releaseUCATT news releaseRisks 406 • 16 May 2009

Britain: Migrant workers at higher risk
Migrant workers are more likely to be killed in the workplace than their colleagues from the UK, a new analysis shows. Researchers at the Centre for Corporate Accountability found migrant workers employed in the construction sector are at least twice as likely to die at work than those from the UK.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • 4 April 2009

Britain: Worker's death costs metal firm £70,000
A Sheffield metal company has been fined £20,000 fine and ordered to pay £50,000 costs two years after a young Polish worker died in an horrific fireball. Patrycjusz Handzel, 24, suffered 80 per cent burns in the explosion in March 2007 at Transition International, when his synthetic fibre top burned for 12 minutes at boiling point on his skin.
HSE news releaseSheffield StarSheffield TelegraphRisks 396 • 7 March 2009

Britain: Polish workers urged to report unsafe sites
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is urging Polish construction workers to get in touch if they feel their health and safety is at risk in the workplace.
HSE news releaseContract Journal • HSE: Praca obcokrajowców w Wielkiej Brytanii •  TUC: pracawbrytanii.orgRisks 392 • 7 February 2009

Britain: Fair employment board starts work
Business groups, unions and the government joined forces last week for the first meeting of the Fair Employment Enforcement Board. Ministers say the board will lead the fight to protect vulnerable workers from the minority of unscrupulous employers who exploit their staff and undercut their competitors.
BERR news release • TUC Commission on Vulnerable Employment • Agency workers: You’re your rights. BERR information booklet [pdf] • Risks 382 • 15 November 2008

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