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Britain: Health and safety and agency workers
A new health and safety briefing from the union Unite provides detailed guidance on health and safety and agency workers. There’s a detailed summary of relevant health and safety law, too, and how this relates to other employment laws. On top of this, there are case histories, a listing of sources of further information, a detailed checklist for union safety reps and a pin-up-at-work ‘make sure you’re protected’ poster to direct workers to these reps.
Unite health and safety briefing: Focus on agency workers [pdf]Unite agency workers campaignRisks 376
Hazards news, 4 October 2008

Britain: Migrant detainees used as cheap labour
Detainees at the Campsfield House immigration prison in Oxfordshire are being “exploited for cheap labour” due to staff cuts, a union organisation has revealed. Oxford and District Trades Union Council said the rejected asylum seekers, who are locked up for lengthy periods pending their deportation, are being paid £5 for six-hour shifts of cleaning and kitchen work.
Corporate Watch news reportRisks 375
Hazards news, 27 September 2008

Japan: Chinese ‘slaves’ injured in Japan
Female migrants from China’s Hubei province who were discovered working in ‘slave-like’ conditions in a laundry in Japan have been injured after trying to escape. The three injured women, who worked 15 hours a day, seven days a week, were part of a group of six who went to Japan in late 2005 through a Chinese job agency and who believed they would be working in the garment industry as skilled seamstresses.
Risks 374
Hazards news, 20 September 2008

Thailand: Paralysed migrant worker fights for victims
A migrant worker seriously injured on a Thai construction site is challenging the country’s compensation agency for denying compensation to migrant workers. Nang Noom Mai Seng, 37, this week started a Supreme Court legal action against the Social Security Office's (SSO) continued refusal to provide her accident compensation from the Workmen's Compensation Fund (WCF).
Risks 371

Hazards news, 30 August 2008

Britain: Action against rogue gangmasters soars
The number of gangmasters whose licences have been revoked has soared. Figures released this week by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) reveal from April to mid-August 2008, 22 gangmasters’ licences were revoked; this compared to 33 in the 2007 financial year, and 15 in 2006.
GLA news release [pdf]Risks 371
Hazards news, 30 August 2008

Britain: Advice shortfall for vulnerable workers
Hard pressed employment advisers are struggling to meet the needs of the UK's most vulnerable workers, a TUC report has revealed. The news comes as the government is seeking to reduce safety enforcement cover to many of the sectors identified in the report as particularly badly affected by employment abuses.
CoVE research webpagesRisks 371
Hazards news, 30 August 2008

Britain: Vulnerable work action falls short
Unions have welcomed a new government crackdown on rogue employers, but say the measures do not go far enough. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said “an opportunity has been missed to address the legal and regulatory flaws which keep two million workers in conditions which shame a modern economy.”
BERR news releaseTUC news releaseUCATT news releaseCBI news releaseThe Guardian
Vulnerable Workers Enforcement Forum • Vulnerable worker enforcement forum: final report and government conclusions [pdf]Risks 368
Hazards news, 9 August 2008

Britain: Site union gets casual work commitment
Construction union UCATT has said a blueprint to tackle casualisation in the building industry has been agreed a Labour’s policy review. The union says it was able to persuade the government at the National Policy Forum meeting in Warwick that “issues such as soaring death rates, endemic casualisation and a low levels of skills training must be addressed.”
Risks 367
Hazards news, 2 August 2008

Britain: Health, safety and migrant workers
A new webpage from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides advice for their employers. HSE’s online guidance targets employers, employment agencies, employment businesses, gangmasters and other labour providers and spells out their responsibilities under health and safety law towards migrant workers.
HSE guide for employers of migrant workersTUC guide for migrant workers • TUC guide for union safety reps on supporting migrant workers [pdf]Risks 362
Hazards news, 28 June 2008

Britain: Charter calls for migrant worker rights
Scottish employers are being urged to sign up to a charter of migrant workers’ rights. Around 40 migrant workers from 14 countries met in Edinburgh to present the charter to Scottish parliament members and explain the problems they face when coming to Scotland to work.
UNISON Scotland news release and charter [pdf] Risks 361
Hazards news, 21 June 2008

Britain: Agency worker loses a finger
A Staffordshire fence manufacturer has received a £2,000 fine after an agency worker’s finger was cut off by an unguarded saw. The Fence Factory Ltd was also ordered to pay costs of £2,645 at Stafford Magistrates’ Court after admitting a safety breach.
HSE news releaseRisks 357
Hazards news, 24 May 2008

Britain: Agency workers to get equal rights
Temporary and agency workers will receive the same rights as permanent staff after 12 weeks under an agreement this week between the government, the CBI and the TUC. The business secretary, John Hutton, said the deal, which is the culmination of a lengthy dispute between employers and unions, would achieve the government's twin objectives of “flexibility for British employers and fairness for workers.”
BERR news releaseTUC news releaseRisks 357
Hazards news, 24 May 2008

Britain: TUC works for vulnerable workers
A government minister has seen a groundbreaking TUC-run project that is providing vulnerable workers in London’s East End with badly needed employment advice. Minister for employment relations Pat McFadden met with local workers at the TUC's Vulnerable Workers Project (VWP).
TUC news releaseTUC Vulnerable Workers Project Risks 357
Hazards news, 24 May 2008

Britain: Gangmasters need policing everywhere
Construction union UCATT has renewed its call for the Gangmasters Licensing Act to be extended to the construction industry. The union was speaking out after a gangmaster lost its licence because the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) found this month it used “forced labour, intimidation and abuse” in the flower-picking sector.
UCATT news release • GLA news release [pdf]Risks 356
Hazards news, 17 May 2008

Britain: Gangmaster watchdog wants wider role
The leader of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) and the report of a TUC-convened Commission have both called for all sectors of the economy to be protected from gangmaster exploitation. GLA’s Paul Whitehouse said if the government “wish to extend our remit into other sectors, as the Commission recommends, our committed and enthusiastic staff are willing and ready to accept the challenge of reducing exploitation elsewhere.”
UCATT news release TUC news release Risks 355
Hazards news, 10 May 2008

Britain: Vulnerable worker abuse a ‘national scandal’
Two million workers in Britain are “trapped in a continual round of low-paid and insecure work where mistreatment is the norm,” according to a new report. A TUC-convened commission found some employees being paid £1 an hour, some working 70 hours a week and others facing sexual abuse and hazardous workplaces.
TUC news releases on the CoVE report, vulnerable female workers, bogus self-employment in the construction industry and the shortage of employment rights adviceCommission on Vulnerable Employment (CoVE) Hazards vulnerable workers’ webpages Risks 355
Hazards news, 10 May 2008

Britain: HSE migrant worker webpages
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has improved its multi-lingual migrant worker webpages to provide guidance for workers from overseas and their employers. HSE says the pages for workers have been translated into several languages, and are also available in English.
HSE news release and migrant workers webpagesRisks 354
Hazards news, 3 May 2008

Thailand: Migrants start compensation test case
Three Shan workers are seeking to overturn a policy which is denying migrant workers in Thailand compensation for their work-related ailments. With support from the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF), which last year launched a migrant workers’ health and safety project, the trio decided to bring their case to the court after the workers’ compensation authority in January denied them compensation.
ANROAV news release Risks 352
Hazards news, 19 April 2008

Thailand: Migrants face death or deportation
Survivors of a human smuggling tragedy in Thailand, in which 54 migrants including two children were found suffocated in a locked container truck on 10 April, will be deported back to army-ruled Burma (Myanmar), a Thai court has ruled.
Seattle TimesANROAV reportRisks 352
Hazards news, 19 April 2008

Britain: Tube bosses renege on agency staff
Talks between London Underground (LUL) and the Tube’s two biggest unions over a raft of safety and staffing issues broke down on 5 March when the company said it intended to continue using agency and security staff and ‘mobile station supervisors’.
TSSA news release RMT news releaseRisks 346
Hazards news, 8 March 2008

Britain: Temporary workers bill moves forward
Unions have welcomed strong parliamentary support for a backbench bill to give temps new rights at work. Labour MPs including heavyweights John Prescott and Peter Hain threw their support behind Andrew Miller's bill when it went before parliament on 22 February, voting by 147 to 11 to ensure it received a second reading.
Temporary and Agency Workers (Equal Treatment) Bill 2007-08TUC news releaseRisks 345
Hazards news, 1 March 2008

Global: Temporary workers are at greater risk
Contingent workers – the army of part-time, temporary and contract workers populating many workplaces – face a much higher risk of occupational injury and illness, a new report has confirmed. Researchers from the US government’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) say the higher risk has been found in studies both in the US and Europe.
Kristin J Cummings and Kathleen Kreiss. Contingent workers and contingent health: Risks of a modern economy, JAMA, volume 299, pages 448-450, 2008 [extract]Risks 344
Hazards news, 23 February 2008

Canada: Temps hide the unsafe truth
Companies in Canada’s most populous province that use an army of temporary workers are hiding a dirty secret behind their exemplary safety records. That's because Ontario’s worker insurance programme insulates major firms from the consequences of accidents on their premises, yet gives big financial penalties to the temporary agency that sent the worker to the job.
Toronto Star Risks 344
Hazards news, 23 February 2008

Britain: Mystery worker reveals temp exploitation
Agency working is being used to undercut the terms of employment of permanent workers, the union Unite has warned. The alert came after a Unite member went 'undercover' to experience the plight of agency workers. The union says he found an insecure world of work where no national insurance was paid, contracts of work did not exist and no workplace training or basic safety equipment was provided.
Unite news releaseTUC agency workers briefingRisks 344
Hazards news, 23 February 2008

Global: The dangerous world of child labour
David Parker produces beautiful books with exquisite photographs. But his elegant, intimate work documents the daily work undertaken worldwide by over 300 million under the age of 16, from textile workers, to brick makers, sex workers to soldiers.
Before their time: The world of child labor. David Parker. ISBN 978 1 59372 024 7. The Quantuck Lane Press. £22.99. WW Norton and Company LtdRisks 343
Hazards news, 16 February 2008

Britain: ‘Serious risk’ of new migrant tragedies
Many migrant workers are being put at “serious risk” by cost-cutting employers who aren't providing sufficient training or suitable supervision to new recruits, safety professionals’ organisation IOSH has said. IOSH president Ray Hurst said “the reality is that with many migrant workers keen to earn as much in as short a time as possible, taking on jobs with existing safety concerns and their lack of understanding of the UK health and safety system, they are a vulnerable group and at greater risk.”
Risks 342
Hazards news, 9 February 2008

Britain: New push for temp rights at work
MPs and trade unions have given their backing a new bill to ensure equal treatment for agency workers. The Private Member’s Bill, brought by Andrew Miller MP, was launched at the House of Commons on 6 February, ahead of its second reading on 22 February.
TUC news releaseAct now! TUC temporary workers action callRisks 342
Hazards news, 9 February 2008

Europe: Working migrants at risk
Migrant workers in Europe are over-represented in unsafe, unhealthy and insecure work, according to a new European Agency for Safety and Health at Work report. “Migrant workers are often over-represented in high-risk sectors and in the so-called 3D jobs - dirty, dangerous and demanding,” said agency director Jukka Takala.
European Agency news release and migrant workers webpages • Literature study on migrant workers [pdf]Risks 340
Hazards news, 26 January 2008

Britain: Union challenges M&S on migrant workers
Migrant workers at a factory supplying meat to Marks & Spencer are suffering exploitation in a drive to maximise profits, according to a union report. Unite says that Polish staff at a factory in south Wales providing M&S with red meat are employed on “zero hours” contracts with no guaranteed number of hours, and suffer “harsh and divisive” conditions.
Unite news releaseTell M&S to stop the exploitation
Hazards news, 22 December 2007

Thailand: Migrant project reveals work dangers
Making Migrant Safety at Work Matter (MMSAWM) foundation volunteers have produced safety materials in the Shan and Burmese languages for agricultural and construction workers, to be distributed to workers at outreach sessions where interviews and bodymapping sessions are conducted.
Bangkok Post and related storyBodymapping resources
Hazards news, 15 December 2007

Britain: Site unions warns of bogus self-employed dangers
Construction unions have warned the government about the dangers of bogus self-employment. Workers miss out on holiday and sick pay, industrial injury and disease benefits and other employment rights.
UCATT news release
Hazards news, 1 December 2007

Britain: Migrant workers killed in van smash
Three migrant workers were killed and another eight workers hospitalised in a head-on crash at Croft, near Skegness, at about 7am on Tuesday 13 November. The tragedy evoked memories a Valentine's Day 2006 car crash in which five migrant workers from Grantham, Lincolnshire, were killed.
Lincolnshire Echo
Hazards news, 24 November 2007

Britain: Contractor threat to shipyard safety
Contractors working at A&P Falmouth are undermining health and safety and long standing agreements at the shipyard, the union GMB has said. It is particularly concerned migrant workers employed by contractors at the Cornish workplace could be vulnerable to health and safety risks.
GMB news release
Hazards news, 24 November 2007

Britain: Migrant worker misery is a pub grub ingredient
Food and snacks eaten in pubs, canteens and on trains across the country could have been prepared by migrant workers working in “Dickensian sweatshop conditions”, a union is warning clients and customers. Unite is concerned that young Polish workers, some of whom are members of Unite, employed by salad and vegetable preparation company Just Prepared are forced to work all day in sodden clothing, cannot access toilets during a shift without permission and at times work up to 16 hours a day.
Unite news release
Hazards news, 24 November 2007

Britain: Serious slip up at dangerous food factory
A GMB member has been awarded compensation after being injured at a London food factory. Production worker Dinsuta Kanji received almost £13,000 compensation after being injured at Katsouris Fresh Foods, owned by the giant Icelandic Bakkavör Group - the firm has faced serious criticism of its safety standards after a series of recent injuries.
Pattinson & Brewer news release
Hazards news, 17 November 2007

Britain: New TUC website to support Polish workers
The TUC has launched a new Polish language website to support the increasing number of Polish workers in the UK. The website - - run by the TUC in partnership with Citizens Advice and Solidarnosc, explains the rights workers can expect at work, including health and safety, working time, holiday entitlement and sick pay.
TUC news releaseTUC website for Polish workers
Hazards news, 27 October 2007

Britain: HSE warning after Romanian loses leg
Employers must ensure all workers including migrants are informed about safety procedures, the UK safety watchdog has said. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) warning came after a Romanian worker, Nicolai Danut-Puiu, 38, lost his right leg at London recycling firm, Ethos Recycling Limited.
HSE news releaseHazards migrant workers webpages
Hazards news, 6 October 2007

Britain: Site unions call for gangmaster controls
The government must extend the Gangmasters Licensing Act (GLA) to the construction industry, delegates to the TUC congress have decided. Construction unions say since the GLA came into force in 2006 there has been a stream of rogue gangmasters who have moved from agriculture into the construction industry.
Unite news releaseTUC and Hazards migrant worker webpages
Hazards news, 15 September 2007

Britain: Study reveals exploitation of migrant workers
Thousands of Polish and Lithuanian workers are being exploited at work in the UK, a new report commissioned by the TUC has revealed. Since 2004 when 10 new states joined the EU, more than 475,000 Polish and Lithuanian workers have come to work in the UK.
TUC news releaseLiving and working in the UK: Your rights [pdf]EU members? Migrant workers' challenges and opportunities to trade unions: A Polish and Lithuanian case study [pdf]Hazards vulnerable workers webpages
Hazards news, 8 September 2007

Australia: ‘Enslaved’ migrants pay with their lives
Conditions in remote Australian workplaces, where two foreigners died within three days in June, are so harsh that a leading immigration expert says they are “akin to slavery.” An investigation has exposed blatant breaches of the 457 skilled visa scheme and uncovered details of the deaths of the two workers in the Northern Territory and Queensland, and of a third man north of Perth.
The Age news item and in-depth reportSydney Morning Herald news report and ‘Dead men working’ special video report
Hazards news, 1 September 2007

Saudi Arabia: Migrant domestics killed by employers
The killing of two Indonesian domestic workers by their employers in Saudi Arabia highlights the Saudi government’s ongoing failure to hold employers accountable for serious abuses, campaign group Human Rights Watch has said. The brutal beatings by these employers also left two other Indonesian domestic workers critically injured.
Human Rights Watch news release
Hazards news, 25 August 2007

Britain: Abusive gangmaster's licence is revoked
A firm that failed to pay migrant agricultural workers for 35 days has had its licence revoked by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA). The GLA said 40 Bulgarian workers had to scavenge for food in the fields where they worked because Cornwall-based Baltic Work Team Ltd had not paid them, placing the workers health and welfare at risk.
GLA news release [pdf] • Unite news releaseTUC news release
Hazards news, 18 August 2007

Britain: TUC wants a crackdown on rogue agencies
Rogue employment agencies are ignoring safety, minimum wage and employment laws without much fear of getting caught, the TUC has warned. It is calling on the government to look at new ways of finally bringing rogue employment agencies to task.
TUC news releaseBERR employment agency standards webpages
Hazards news, 11 August 2007

Australia: Temporary migrant jobs prove fatal
Australia’s federal government is continuing to ignore warnings over the abuse of temporary migrant workers, despite reports that three overseas workers have died at work in recent weeks say unions. Construction union CFMEU and national union federation ACTU have highlighted the deaths of three migrant workers in the last month.
ACTU news releaseSydney Morning HeraldABC News
Hazards news, 30 June 2007

Britain: Government to act on work abuse evidence
The government wants unions, businesses and workers to pass on reports of abuse of vulnerable workers, and has said it will act on this evidence. The call came at the first meeting of the Vulnerable Worker Enforcement Forum, launched on 1 June to crack down on abuses of workplace rights.
DTI news releasePersonnel TodayEmail your evidence of poor employment practices to the Vulnerable Worker Enforcement Forum
Hazards news, 30 June 2007

Britain: Migrant workers need extra help staying safe
Problems with language and a poor understanding of the culture in British workplaces means that migrant workers may need extra help from employers and unions to stay safe at work, the TUC is warning. A TUC migrant worker safety guide says that some rogue employers are likely to be cutting corners and risking the health of their migrant workforce.
TUC news releaseSafety and migrant workers: A practical guide for safety representatives [pdf] • Hazards migrant workers webpages
Hazards news, 30 June 2007

Britain: Ministers target employer abuse of workers
Some of London's vulnerable workers are to be targeted by a government pilot scheme that aims to uncover abuses by employers and to offer protection. The scheme, launched on 1 June by Jim Fitzpatrick, the employment minister, will focus on groups such as cleaners, security guards, and caretakers who are not getting their full employment rights.
DTI news release
Hazards news, 9 June 2007

Britain: Tesco protest highlights risk to migrants
GMB members employed by Bakkavör, a Tesco supplier the union says operates unsafely, staged a demonstration outside the supermarket giant’s London HQ. The union said the protest followed the failure of both Tesco and Bakkavör to take action on a health and safety warning issued by GMB in March.
GMB news release
Hazards news, 9 June 2007

Britain: Banana firm shows need for action
Unions say revelations that a leading supplier of fair trade fruit has exploited Eastern European migrant workers in the UK proves the case for improved employment protection for vulnerable workers. Tony Woodley, joint general secretary of Unite, said: “It is remarkable that now concerned GPs are reporting the health impact of these exploitative working conditions on their patients.”
BBC News OnlineTUC news release
Hazards migrant workers’ webpages
Hazards news, 2 June 2007

Europe: Migrants get worse jobs
A report last week from the Dublin-based Eurofound thinktank said Europe’s migrant workers are more likely than non-migrants to suffer unhealthy conditions at work, to work longer hours, and to perform shift work, night work, and weekend work.
Eurofound news releaseEmployment and working conditions of migrant workers Eurofound, May 2007 Hazards migrant workers’ webpages
Hazards news, 2 June 2007

Britain: TUC enquiry into vulnerable workers
Top business and community leaders have joined a TUC commission to investigate vulnerable working in the UK. The Commission on Vulnerable Employment (CoVE), will investigate the extent of workplace exploitation and consider improvements to the enforcement regime and legal protection available for vulnerable staff.
TUC news releaseTUC Commission on Vulnerable EmploymentHazards migrant workers’ webpages
Hazards news, 2 June 2007

Britain: Unite tribunal victory for agency workers
Thousands of agency workers will now be entitled to greater employment rights following a tribunal win by the union Unite. The case pursued by the union’s TGWU section ended in victory when an Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) ruled in favour of a group of Polish workers in the food processing industry, saying they should be considered employees rather than self-employed.
Unite news release

Britain: Unions march for construction workers' rights
Construction unions marched on Westminster this week to protest at the exploitation of migrant workers. Site workers from across the country joined the 28 March rally.
Risks 300, 31 March 2007

Britain: Union warns hummus action could spread
Changes to production methods after a salmonella in hummus scare could place workers at additional risk in an already unsafe firm, a union has warned. GMB officer Tahir Bhatti commented: “Bakkavör managers are putting production for the main supermarkets ahead of their legal duty to protect the health and safety of their workers.”
Risks 299, 24 March 2007

Britain: Unions 'encouraged' by response on language training
A government minister’s positive reaction to safety and other concerns raised by the TUC, unions and safety groups about proposed changes to funding for courses in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) has been welcomed by campaigners. However, lecturers’ union UCU said the training should be required rather than just encouraged by the government.
Risks 298, 17 March 2007

Britain: Time to stop agency worker abuse
Loopholes in employment law that leave agency staff open to exploitation must be closed to stop employers using them as a source of cheap, vulnerable labour, says a new TUC report.
Risks 296, 3 March 2007

Britain: Workplace danger as English lessons face cut
Government plans that would restrict access to free English language classes would lead to some migrant workers facing an increased risk of accidents at work, lecturers’ union UCU has warned. Roger Kline, UCU head of employment rights, has urged ministers to bear in mind the health and safety impact of cuts to ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) provision for migrant workers, taking account of recent tragedies.

Risks 296, 3 March 2007

Britain: TUC warns consultation misses temp work troubles
A government consultation on the protection of vulnerable agency workers is too narrow and will leave temporary workers at risk, the TUC has warned. TUC’s Brendan Barber urged the government to support the Temporary Agency Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) bill which seeks to give agency workers the same rights as full-time and directly employed staff on key issues including basic wages and sick and holiday pay, and will have its second reading in the Commons on 2 March.
Risks 295, 24 February 2007

Global: Migrant workers get the 3-D jobs
Migrant workers are not taking local jobs and driving down wages, but are being exploited in dirty, dangerous and degrading jobs, a top union official has said. “Scare stories about immigration are not new nor is immigration damaging to industrialised economies,” Neil Kearney, general secretary of the Brussels-based International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Federation (ITGLWF) told the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Risks 292, 3 February 2007

Britain: Migrant workers facing exploitation and danger
Migrant workers in the UK are facing exploitation and danger at work, the TUC has warned.
Risks 287, 16 December 2006

Britain: Czech worker injured by unsafe saw
An Oldham firm has been fined £10,500 after a Czech employee suffered serious hand injuries in a circular saw. Factory Reconstruction Co (Manchester) Ltd was also ordered to pay £1,956 costs at Trafford Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to three criminal HSE charges.
Risks 286, 9 December 2006

Britain: GMB fingers food firm on union rights
The union GMB has told a food multinational to “get real” after it defended a safety record that includes several recent serious injuries. The London plants of Katsouris Fresh Foods, owned by the Icelandic Bakkavör Group, has 2,500 mainly Asian and mostly migrant workers producing ready meals for supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury and Waitrose.
Risks 286, 9 December 2006

Britain: Supermarkets face action over fruit pickers
A rolling programme of trade union pickets at Sainsbury's and Tesco stores began this week as the supermarkets were urged to act to ensure fair treatment of workers employed by strawberry supplier S&A Produce. Farmworkers’ union TGWU raised concerns about S&A's Herefordshire farms in July, after being contacted by staff concerned about health, safety and welfare issues, accommodation standards and problems with bullying and disciplinary procedures.
Risks 281, 4 November 2006

Britain: HSE promises action on migrant safety
Migrant workers are facing higher workplace accident levels because they are concentrated in more hazardous jobs without adequate training and are working longer hours and shifts, research for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has found. The findings have prompted an HSE promise to step up inspections and enforcement in sectors “where vulnerable workers are most likely to work.”
Risks 279, 21 October 2006

Britain: Bad gangmasters could move on warns TUC
Unscrupulous gangmasters and employment agencies could move their focus to other sectors now that agriculture and food processing are more tightly regulated, TUC has warned. The TUC alert came as a 1 October change in the law took effect requiring all gangmasters and employment agencies supplying people for work in agriculture and food processing to have a licence.
Risks 277, 7 October 2006

Britain: Union scepticism on migrant worker project
A government-sponsored pilot project to curb the exploitation of migrants and other vulnerable workers in the construction industry has been dismissed as “rubbish” by a union. The scheme is scheduled to launch early next year in London docklands and will run for two years.
Risks 276, 30 September 2006

Australia: Injured, fired and told he’ll be deported
A Chinese worker who sold his family home to get to Australia has been left destitute and injured in suburban Melbourne. Fu Zhihong, 49, became the latest victim of the federal government’s cheap labour visas, when he was fired by employer Lakeside Packaging after breaking both wrists and informed in the same note he would be deported.
Risks 275, 23 September 2006

Britain: One in five a “vulnerable” worker
More than five million workers in the UK – one in every five employees - are being ripped off by rogue bosses, according to a new report. Some employers break laws by paying cash in hand below the minimum wage or forcing staff to work unpaid overtime, said TUC leader Brendan Barber.
Risks 274, 16 September 2006

Australia: Union fears on migrant exploitation
Unions in Australia have warned that a new temporary visa system is resulting in the exploitation of migrant workers in hazardous conditions. The alert comes after unions revealed dozens of Chinese workers were being employed on a construction site in Sydney without adequate safety protection or the required workers’ compensation coverage.
Risks 273, 9 September 2006Hazards migrants webpages

Britain: Strawberry firm ‘exploiting migrant workers’
Farming union TGWU has warned that a major UK strawberry grower is exploiting migrant workers. The union says it has “no option” but to submit hundreds of grievances on behalf of workers at the Herefordshire farm of S&A Produce, whose customers include Sainsbury’s and Tesco.
Risks 273, 9 September 2006

Bahrain: India's plea on migrant labour camps rejected
Bahrain has rejected India's request for joint inspection of labour camps in the kingdom. India’s plea came after a fire killed 16 Indian construction labourers in one of the camps.
Risks 269, 12 August 2006

China: New network for injured migrant workers
A new support group for migrant workers in China has been formed. China's record of health and safety has been criticised in the past and migrant workers are thought to be particularly vulnerable especially given the lack of support available.
Risks 266, 22 July 2006

UAE: Report reveals massive abuses of migrant workers
A new report on labour standards in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has identified “massive abuses” of the migrant workers who constitute about 95 per cent of the private sector workforce.
Risks 254, 29 April 2006

Britain: Union welcome for gangmaster watchdog
Farmworkers' union TGWU has welcomed the launch of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority. The union says the creation of the authority is a landmark on the road to justice and fair treatment for casual workers in the UK food industry.

Risks 252, 15 April 2006

USA: Immigration safety stings to stop
US federal officials have told immigrant advocates that government immigration agents will discontinue the use of undercover sting operations involving bogus health and safety programmes to round up illegal immigrants.
Risks 251, 8 April 2006

Britain: Cocklers criticised after rescue
Two boats overloaded with cocklers and cockles got in to difficulties and had to be assisted by lifeboats the day after a gangmaster was jailed over the deaths of 21 cockle pickers in Morecambe Bay. Furious coastguard officials said those concerned had “learned nothing” from recent incidents.

Risks 251, 8 April 2006

Britain: Tragic lessons must be learned, say unions
The lessons of the Morecambe Bay cocklepickers tragedy must not be forgotten, unions have warned. They are calling for rigorous enforcement of the new gangmaster regulations and warn that extending safety laws must also be effectively enforced to protect all vulnerable workers.
Risks 250, 1 April 2006

Britain: Cockler gangmaster gets 14 years
A gangmaster who left 21 cockle pickers to drown in rising tides at Morecambe Bay has been jailed for 14 years. Chinese-born Lin Liang Ren, 29, from Liverpool, was convicted at Preston Crown Court of manslaughter.
Risks 250, 1 April 2006

China: New payouts policy covers migrant workers
China is to extend to migrant workers the right to benefits including compensation for industrial diseases, the government has said. A report from the official news agency Xinhua said reform of the social security system will expand coverage to about 200 million of the farmers-turned-industrial workers.

Risks 249, 25 March 2006

Britain: Licences for gangmasters unveiled
A new system aimed at weeding out rogue gangmasters has been welcomed by plough-to-plate union TGWU. Measures to protect workers include forcing anyone who supplies workers to the packing, food processing or farming industries to have a licence from April this year, with anyone found to be operating without a valid licence will be fined up to £5,000 or imprisoned for up to 10 years.
Risks 248, 18 March 2006

Britain: More migrant workers killed in minibus crash
Six people - including five who were believed to be migrant workers - died this week in a head on crash in Lincolnshire. It is the latest in series incidents in which migrant workers have been killed or injured while being ferried to and from work.

Risks 244, 18 February 2006

Britain: PM urged to act on gangmaster abuse
Top food industry, union and human rights organisations have joined forces to press Tony Blair to introduce immediately a comprehensive law to prevent the abuse of an estimated 600,000 temporary workers.

Risks 243, 11 February 2006

USA: Daily dangers face day labourers
The job for life has been replaced with a job-for-a-day for many in the US, and these workers are facing exploitation and deadly conditions as a result. The country’s first nationwide study on day labourers has found they are a nationwide phenomenon, with 117,600 people gathering at more than 500 hiring sites to look for work on a typical day.
Risks 241, 28 January 2006

Poland/Britain: Polish PM urged to tackle bad employers
TGWU has urged the Polish prime minister to raise with Tony Blair the miserable treatment experienced by thousands of Polish workers in the UK.
Risks 235, 3 December 2005

Britain: Gangmaster inspections watered down
The GMB has expressed fears that government plans to water down the licensing proposals for gangmaster registration could lead to another Morecombe Bay tragedy instead of preventing it.
Risks 230, 29 October 2005

Britain: Gangmaster backtracking throws a lifeline to criminals
Unions TGWU and GMB have warned that government pressure for the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) to limit pre-licensing inspections to those gangmasters deemed sufficiently “risky” means rogues will avoid detection and will be granted a licence to operate.
Risks 225, 24 September 2005

USA: Union warning on immigrant workers at risk
Immigrant workers are dying at work at a far greater rate than native-born workers in the US, a new study has found. Research by national union federation AFL-CIO found workplace fatalities among all foreign-born workers increased by 46 per cent between 1992 and 2002 and Latino workers fared even worse, with a 58 per cent jump in on-the-job deaths in the same time period.
Risks 223, 10 September 2005

USA: Immigrants entrapped with promise of safety training
Federal immigration officials have used a bogus offer of mandatory safety training to entrap undocumented construction workers in North Carolina, who now face deportation. The fake training ruse has angered safety authorities in the state, who say it has eroded trust with groups of workers at particularly high risk at work.

Risks 215, 16 July 2005

Britain: Migrant workers health and safety research
An in-depth study of migrant workers is being carried out in five regions of England and Wales - London, East of England, South Wales, the South West and the North East – and the researchers are seeking your help.
Risks 214, 9 July 2005

Britain: Gangmaster draft offers “sanctuary for slave labourers”
Unions have warned that gaps in the proposed new licensing system for gangmasters and agencies will leave thousands of temporary, mainly migrant, workers vulnerable to exploitation.
Risks 212, 25 June 2005

Britain: Welcome for new gangmaster watchdog
The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) has welcomed the 1 April 2005 launch of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority.
Risks 201, 9 April 2005

Britain: Companies fined £95,000 following crypt death
The death of a 22-year-old Romanian construction worker on a central London construction site has resulted in fines for the companies responsible for his death. Three defendants received penalties totalling £95,000, plus costs of £60,000, at Southwark Crown Court, London.
Risks 194, 12 February 2005

Britain: Migrants face forced labour in the UK
Migrant workers in the UK, including those with the right to work here, are subject to such levels of exploitation and control that they meet the international legal definition of "forced labour," according to an independent report published by the TUC. 'Forced labour and migration to the UK' reveals abuse, including very long hours, pay below the minimum wage and dangerous working conditions.
Risks 194, 12 February 2005

South Korea: Migrants face dirty, difficult and dangerous jobs
Foreign workers in South Korea are being employed in the most dangerous jobs and are facing an increasing risk of ill-health and injury as a result. Concern was heightened as the labour ministry launched a probe into reports that eight female Thai workers had been severely affected by exposure to toxic chemicals at a sweatshop, with some hospitalised.
Risks 191, 22 January 2005

Britain: TGWU welcome for gangmaster watchdog
TGWU has welcomed details of a new watchdog aimed at curbing the exploitation of agricultural workers and labourers and that was created after a high profile campaign by the farm work union.
Risks 191, 22 January 2005

Britain: Extend gangmaster protection, say MPs
Safeguards to prevent migrant workers from being exploited should be extended to the construction industry, Labour MPs have said.
Risks 190, 15 January 2005

Britain: Language barriers mean new dangers at work
Concern that migrant workers could be missing out on crucial health and safety training because their employers are not providing safety material in any language other than English has prompted the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the TUC to publish a new safety guide translated into 19 different languages.
Risks 186, 11 December 2004

Britain: New code to tackle widespread temp labour abuse
Research into gangmasters providing migrant workers to leading UK supermarket suppliers has found that every one of the companies inspected was breaking the law. The findings came ahead of this week's publication of a new Code of Practice designed to help ensure labour providers obey the law and respect the rights of the workers they hire.
Risks 183, 20 November 2004

New agency will license gangmasters
Proposals for a new body to help stop exploitation of agricultural workers have been published by the government. The government say a Gangmasters Licensing Authority will operate a licensing scheme, set licensing conditions and maintain a register of licensed gangmasters.
Risks 168, 7 August 2004

Chinese cocklers injured in crash
Seventeen people - including 15 Chinese cockle pickers - have been taken to hospital after a minibus was involved in an early morning crash with a lorry on 7 July. Two are seriously hurt.
Risks 164, 11 July 2004

Gangmaster law a "victory for union action"
A new law requiring the licensing and registration of all gangmasters will turn the screw on the unscrupulous gangmasters who exploit workers with sometimes deadly results.
Risks 164, 11 July 2004

Government failing on gangmasters
The government has failed to respond "sufficiently urgently" to illegal activities by gangmasters, a parliamentary committee has concluded.
Risks 157, 22 May 2004

Unions can protect migrant workers
The first step to avoiding exploitation for migrant workers is the trade union movement, a top union official has said.
Risks 157, 22 May 2004

Migrants get TUC advice on rights at work
To help migrant workers from the expanded European Union understand their rights at work under UK employment law, the TUC has produced a simple advice leaflet that the Home Office has agreed to send out with every new migrant's registration certificate.
Risks 155, 8 May 2004

Fear drives Chinese back to cockle beds
The government claims it is clamping down on illegal and deadly gangmasters, but the main losers seem to be the exploited migrants themselves.
Risks 155, 8 May 2004