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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

It’s time to end “dodgy, dangerous employment practices” , MEP tells Green Party Conference

Seminar for journalists : A Fair Share in Europe - Creating a Common Asylum System

7th October 2017

Last week, two Ecuadorian cleaners were suspended without pay from their zero-hour contract jobs polishing the floors of London’s Ferrari and Maserati showrooms. Why? Because they voted to go on strike after their employer refused requests for an increase to their £7.50-an-hour minimum wage. [1]

Unfortunately, this is just one example of a problem that runs much deeper. Across the UK, workers with ‘precarious contracts’ are exposed to prejudice and exploitation. Migrants are particularly affected – often forced into irregular jobs, where they encounter zero-hour contracts, rock-bottom wages, and mental and physical abuse.

At the Green Party Autumn Conference, which kicks off today in Harrogate, Jean Lambert MEP will speak on a panel entitled ‘Living on the Margins: Protecting Migrant Workers’ Rights in a Precarious World’.

She will be joined by Owen Espley (Senior Economic Justice Campaigner at War on Want) and Lauren McCourt (a McDonalds worker and campaigner for workers’ rights).

Jean Lambert, London’s Green MEP and the Green Party’s migration spokesperson, said: “It’s devastating that so many migrant workers in the UK suffer as a result of these dodgy, dangerous employment practices. Nobody should find themselves in a position where they are forced to take on exploitative work, or fear the consequences of leaving an abusive employer.

Since the Brexit vote, it’s become increasingly clear that our Government doesn’t care about migrant workers’ rights – actively seeking to make life more difficult for these individuals, rather than helping them to feel safe and secure. If it took this issue seriously, it would ensure that everyone in the UK can work legally and report exploitation without fearing a knock on the door from the Home Office. It would give workers the tools they need to challenge abuse. And it would ensure that these protections can be enforced through employment tribunals and access to legal aid.

The Green Party and I will do all in our power to fight precarious work. Everyone deserves to be able to earn a decent living, without suffering from abuse or exploitation.”

Owen Espley, Senior Economic Justice Campaigner at War on Want, said: “The fight against precarious contracts is a fight against racism, sexism and xenophobia. We cannot let the call to ‘control our borders’ be used to not only restrict freedom of movement but to weaken the rights of migrant workers. Only by protecting equal social and labour rights for everyone, can we stop a race to the bottom where employers drive down working conditions for everyone.”

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/oct/06/ferrari-and-maserati-garage-cleaners-strike-for-living-wage