Migrant workers in London face ‘shocking’ levels of exploitation: Report


London, June 13

Migrant workers in London face "shocking" levels of exploitation and are victims of bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace, a new report has found.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who commissioned the research to understand the struggles of migrants, said the findings were "consistent with modern slavery," the Evening Standard reported.

The Rights and risks report compiled by The Young Foundation and Focus on Labour Exploitation found many migrant workers faced bullying and discrimination.

Sexual harassment -- particularly towards women migrant workers in the cleaning, care, and hospitality sectors -- was also found to be "a common occurrence".

"These sectors often have a high percentage of management positions held by men which can act as a barrier to reporting harassment," the report said.

Racism is said in the report to be "a common experience" for many migrant workers in London.

"You can see in the CCTV that they called me a brown fly," an Asian man was quoted as saying in the report.

"There was an incident that one of the waiters in the group went to the workplace in the middle of the restaurant, out of the blue, he was shouting at me: "You are a whore..." another Asian recounted.

"For workers whose main concern is maintaining their income, and potentially accommodation, fear of losing work can act as a deterrent to reporting abuse," the report said.

The first-hand accounts by migrant workers also said they faced significant issues with pay with many receiving a lower rate than promised, incorrect deductions and unclear payslips.

One study, mentioned in the report, which focused on the Latin American community in London, found that three-quarters earned less than the London Living Wage, with around one in five reporting not to have been paid for work carried out.

"Migrants being subject to long hours with no pay and abuse such as racial slurs is the opposite of everything our city stands for," Mayor Khan was quoted as saying in the Evening Standard.

Calling the report "shocking", Khan said: "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."

Mayor Khan also announced a GBP750,000 investment to bolster specialist support and advice services for migrants. However, he said action was needed at a national level.

The survey covered 47 migrant workers mostly from Asia with most being in the age groups of 41-50.

London is home to the highest number of migrant workers in the UK, both for EU and non-EU nationals.

According to the 2021 census, the largest migrant groups in London come from India (323,000), followed by Romania (176,000), Poland (149,000), Bangladesh (139,000), Pakistan (130,000), Italy (126,000) and Nigeria (117,000).


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