Investors unite to ask firms to address plight of migrant seasonal workers

by | Dec 19, 2022

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Migrant seasonal workers arriving in the UK this year have paid an estimated £35 million to travel here and take up roles supporting the UK’s food sector. 

The International Labour Organization states that recruitment costs shouldn’t be borne by the worker. Some workers have found themselves with only weeks of work, in substantial debt and in dire straights.

CCLA has convened a group of investors including Evelyn PartnersEpworth Investment ManagementSarasin & Partners and Schroders to sign an investor statement calling for the protection of migrant seasonal workers.

The statement calls on retailers and firms in, and directly sourcing from, the UK agricultural supply chain, to protect migrant seasonal workers from paying recruitment fees – the payment of which can leave workers in danger of debt bondage. 

 

Ms Rosey HURST, Founder and Director Impactt said:“Workers should not have to pay to come to the UK to harvest our fruit and vegetables – supermarkets must ensure that they pay farmers enough money so that no worker has to pay for a job, and supermarkets, suppliers, recruitment agencies and farmers must improve due diligence to avoid the very real risk of modern slavery on our doorstep”

Mr Andy HALL, an independent migrant worker rights specialist focusing on ethical recruitment transformation, and working out of Nepal, said: “I have seen at first hand the negative impact that recruitment fees and associated costs can have on migrant workers’ lives in the UK, especially for workers coming from Indonesia and Nepal. Migrant workers are sold a dream of a better life working in the UK that can quickly turn into a nightmare of debt bondage and forced labour. This situation, that can result in modern day slavery, has been exacerbated by a poorly designed UK seasonal worker scheme. Investors, as the end-owners of companies, can and should play an important role in pushing companies to develop better processes to identify and provide remedy to victims of debt bondage and forced labour, and ensure they adopt the employer pays principle of responsible recruitment.” 

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