Why UNISON Eastern says: stop the exploitation of migrant workers

Eastern region is allowed to send two motions to national delegate conference. This year, regional council opted to send one on challenging the exploitation of migrant workers to the union’s highest decision-making body.

Glenn Carrington, chair of the East of England Ambulance Service branch, raised the issue after his eyes were opened over a bank holiday weekend.

“On the Friday I had a call to this nursing home. Helping the patient, I got chatting to this nurse from India, she looked dead on her feet.

“I was back again the next day on another call. I joked with her: ‘Don’t you ever go home?’ She said she lived upstairs.

“I went again on the Sunday and there she was again. She said whenever someone doesn’t turn up they call her because she’s so close.

“She’s scared to say no — her manager had threatened to sack her if she refused the work. She’d need to find a new sponsor but there’d be a black mark next to her name and she’d probably be deported.”

Glenn walks by an ambulance

Glenn was shocked, even more so when he found out she wasn’t being paid for the extra 20 or 30 hours a week and wasn’t allowed to bring her family over, while earning around 20% less than her British colleagues and having to pay back sponsorship fees.

“I was embarrassed by my naivety to be honest but I talked to some other friends in care homes and found out it’s pretty common across the board.”

He was compelled to act: “I got a sort of generational trauma, it reminded me of what my parents went through in the Windrush.

“It just seems like slavery to me — it goes against everything UNISON stands for.”

His awakening became UNISON Eastern’s motion, committing the union to keep promoting the migrant workers’ network, supporting branches organising among migrant workers and maintaining UNISON’s relationship with the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants.

Glenn hopes the union can make a real impact for some of the most exploited workers in the country.

“I just can’t believe we allow this to happen. Our union already takes an important stand on this but we need to keep up the pressure.”

Challenging the exploitation of migrant workers is motion 6.

Read more about national delegate conference here.