Human Rights Watch Says Migrant Workers Are Almost Slaves Because of New U.K. Rule

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  • Confiscation of passport, confinement to the home, physical and emotional abuse, long working hours with no rest time, no holidays, and low wages or non-payment of wages are some of the abuses documented in a report in UK.
  • 58-page Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, “Hidden away: migrant domestic abuses in the U.K.”, says that a recent immigration rule has actually made worse the condition of domestic workers.
  • According to the Home Office, 15,000 domestic workers enter the U.K. every year.
  • Mainly poorly educated women come from Asia and Africa with their employers as child-minders, carers for the elderly, cooks and cleaners.
  • In 2012, Home Office, under Theresa May’s drive to control immigration disallowed a domestic worker brought by an employer into UK to change employers, trapping workers in an exploitative workplace. Thus, those who flee abusive work environments become illegal immigrants.
  • On April 1, trade union ‘Unite’, and the charities ‘Justice for Domestic Workers’, and ‘Kalayaan’, in a signed petition to Prime Minister David Cameron, sought scrapping of the ‘tied’ visa rule.
  • They sought restoration of the 1998 Overseas Domestic Workers visa as per which a migrant domestic worker need only work for an employer for a minimum period of a year, after which she is free to change employers.
  • Diana Holland, Unite assistant general secretary says alliance that achieved the Overseas Domestic Workers visa in 1998 is coming together again to expose how the new tied visa has reintroduced slavery status.
  • Domestic workers told the HRW of working up to 18 hours a day without breaks, of going hungry and having to eat leftovers, of being not allowed to use mobile phones, and of not being able to contact their families . Some received wages as little as £100 a month.

Exams Perspective:

  1. Bonded Labor
  2. Human Rights Violation
  3. Plight of Migrant Workers in UK
  4. Human Rights Watch (HRW)
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