Kalayaan is calling for an amendment to the Modern Slavery Bill in order to ensure that the Bill both prevents the trafficking and abuse of migrant domestic workers and allows those who are abused to escape and access justice. The current tied visa undermines the stated purposes of the Bill to prevent slavery. We are delighted that Labour have strongly condemned the tied visa and are committed to an amendment to the Modern Slavery Bill to protect migrant domestic workers.
The Anti Trafficking Monitoring Group on which Kalayaan sits has produced an Alternative Bill which outlines how a Bill which provides meaningful protections for victims and the tools to combat slavery would look. Section 19 details the protections which should exist for migrant domestic workers and contains what we believe is necessary for an amendment on ODWs.
Together with Justice 4 Domestic Workers, Unite the Union and HOPE not hate among others we are petitioning Government to reinstate domestic workers rights. We have already delivered over 10,000 signatures to the petition to 10 Downing street and will back making another delivery on the 18 October. Please sign the petition to tell the Government that they need to rid the UK of a visa system which is shown to facilitate the abuse, including trafficking and slavery of domestic workers.
Write to your MP
Write to your MP, outlining your concerns regarding the tying of vulnerable workers to their employer and how this undermines the Modern Slavery Bill and the Government’s stated commitments on slavery as well as our commitments on trafficking. Please ask your MP where they stand on this issue and to support an amendment to the Modern Slavery Bill which would reverse the 2012 changes. If you like you can base your letter on this template [link to document], it will be more powerful if you use as much of your own wording as you can.
‘Regina’ (not her real name) was brought to the UK by an employer to work in their private household. She explained that she worked for them one month prior to coming to the UK and that they promised that once in the UK she would have a reasonable job and good salary.
She showed Kalayaan has a copy of a contract which she told us her employers had given to her to present to the British Embassy when applying for her Overseas Domestic Worker visa which showed excellent terms and conditions and salary. Her employers did not know that she took a copy.
Regina explained that once she arrived in London was made to work from 6am – 11pm every day in the employers’ smart central London apartment. She was not paid during her time here and was not allowed to contact her family or to speak to people outside of her employers’ household. She slept in the laundry room and ate leftovers. Her passport was kept from her and she described being regularly verbally abused by her employers who would call her ‘stupid’ and ‘useless’ and would threaten to cut her salary (although she was not paid any salary to make deductions from).
Regina has also explained that the 6 year old child she cared for was regularly abusive and would call her a ‘dirty lady’ and say ‘get away from my house, I don’t like your face’. He would hit her in the face. When she spoke to the mother about this the mother would scream at her and tell her not to criticise her child and threaten to jail her in the UK.
Regina described to Kalayaan that she had no way to challenge her treatment as she had no passport, no money and nowhere to go. She was eventually thrown out by the female employer following an accusation of losing a item of the baby’s clothes. Regina explained she was told not to come back until she found it. After looking without success for several hours, and too terrified to face her employer and having no money and nowhere to go Regina appealed to the reception staff in the apartments for help. The staff called the police. Regina explained that the police arrived, escorted her up to her employers’ apartment to retrieve her passport and then took her to her embassy and left her there. The police appear not to have identified her as trafficked in spite of the indicators, nor issued a crime reference number or even given Regina their card or contact details. Regina understands however that contact details were given to her employers. Regina was effectively left stranded, with no money or support to retrieve her unpaid wages and no way to return to her country.