The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today announced more than £750,000 additional funding to boost support for migrants in London and tackle the exploitation of migrant workers following a ‘shocking’ report which uncovered widespread abuse.
The new report, commissioned by City Hall, uncovers shocking levels of bullying, racially motivated harassment, and the exploitation of migrants in the workplace consistent with modern slavery.
This investment by the Mayor will support migrants in London with independent immigration advice and support services to help ensure they can access their rights, including protection from employment rights violation and exploitation.
First-hand accounts found in the ‘Rights and risks’* report which was compiled by The Young Foundation and Focus on Labour Exploitation found:
- Racial abuse of migrant workers with derogatory terms and slurs used
- Migrant workers interviewed experienced significant issues with pay with many receiving a lower rate than promised, incorrect deductions and unclear payslips
- Highly qualified migrant workers felt compelled to accept unskilled work with many working in those roles too afraid to speak up or seek formal support about their employee rights
The report, commissioned by the Mayor to better understand the struggles of migrants and to address the challenges they face, highlights the clear and urgent need to safeguard vulnerable migrant Londoners from abuse and exploitation.
The report also calls for decisive and urgent action to support those suffering employment rights violations and exploitation, including sustainable funding to ensure consistent access to legal aid. The report notes that the criminalisation of migrants without status leaves them vulnerable, increasing their risk of exploitation.
In line with his long-standing commitment to ensuring migrant Londoners can access their rights, the Mayor is now taking action with a £750,000 programme of work to bolster support services for migrants, including an extension to the Migrant Advice and Support Fund. This will deliver additional specialist services to ensure the most vulnerable migrant Londoners can access their rights, including protection from employment rights violation and exploitation.
This funding is in addition to the Mayor’s investment of £2.3 million funding available for all Londoners via Citizens Advice and London Legal Support Trust, which improves access to legal advice. The Mayor has also commissioned the Work Rights Centre to provide foundational employment rights advice training for 16 migrant and community organisations
Following the findings of the report, the Mayor is urging the Government to do more to ensure migrants can access their rights, can identify abuses they are experiencing, and have access to the support they need to build a fairer London for all. Sadiq also continues to call on Ministers to address the major issues associated with the Illegal Migration Bill currently being debated in Parliament, which will increase the risk of labour exploitation across the city and remove routes for victims to access support.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “This report commissioned by City Hall has uncovered shocking evidence of exploitation of migrant workers across London – consistent with modern slavery.
“Migrants being subject to long hours with no pay and abuse such as racial slurs is the opposite of everything our city stands for. It is abundantly clear from the report that migrant Londoners also face too many barriers to access the advice and support they desperately need to safeguard them from exploitation and help them to work in dignity.
“That’s why today I’ve announced a £750,000 investment to extend City Hall’s funding to provide specialist services to ensure the most vulnerable migrant Londoners can access their rights and the support they need. I continue to urge the government to take the urgent action needed to address these regular employment rights violations and the wider exploitation of migrants, so we can build a fairer London for everyone.”
Helen Goulden OBE, Chief Executive at The Young Foundation, said: “Because of the peer-to-peer approach of this research, the migrant workers that took part felt able to speak openly and with arresting honesty. The experiences they share are sometimes shocking.
“The emerging report, Rights and risks, lays bare the realities of abuse, discrimination, and human rights violations taking place in workplaces across London today. It also exposes the serious shortage of capacity to provide advice and support to migrant workers in these situations.
“This vital research must be followed by action, delivering safer, fairer working conditions for all, and routes to recourse for those Londoner’s whose employment rights are abused, or who face exploitation.”
Lucila Granada, Chief Executive at Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX) said: “Rights and risks provides important insight into the many barriers that migrant workers face in accessing support and advice in London, with these barriers further exacerbated for those with insecure immigration status. It is crucial that policymakers work to ensure that all workers can access support and justice regardless of their immigration status by introducing secure reporting systems, so that workers can report violations to their rights without worrying their immigration status would be at risk”