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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: 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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