Some Zimbabwean caregivers in the United Kingdom (UK) are allegedly subjected to unfair labour practices such as working for long hours for poor wages regarded as “modern slavery.”
Some are allegedly being sacked from work if they complain to the UK Home Office, NewsDay reported.
The culprits involved include some Zimbabweans who were mandated by the Home Office to recruit caregivers from Zimbabwe.
The culprits are also reportedly asking for kickbacks for facilitating the caregivers’ entry into the UK, yet they are supposed to provide the service for free.
A Zimbabwean cardiologist based in the UK who spoke on condition of anonymity said several caregivers from Harare were being exploited but were reluctant to open up. He told NewsDay:
Caregivers receive poor salaries and work for more than 40 hours per week, which is the maximum. On average, they’re being forced to work for 60 hours. That’s modern slavery. Some have fixed contracts. You can’t change employers and if you do that, you will be deported.
The pay scale should be £15 to £18 pounds per hour, but they’re being paid £7 to £10.
A couple of caregivers who spoke to NewsDay confirmed the exploitation, but could not give further details. One caregiver said:
It’s happening, but I am not a quitter.
A British weekly newspaper, The Observer on Sunday reported that a victim of suspected labour abuses in the UK was ousted from her job and victimised after being sacked. The Observer reported:
The Zimbabwean national (25) was interviewed by Home Office compliance officers for an investigation into illegal recruitment practices and told them she had paid a fee of about £1 500 to an agent who arranged for a care home in Surrey to sponsor her visa.
The worker, who was interviewed with several colleagues, claims she was given assurances by the interviewer that her identity would not be disclosed. But days after the interview, she was contacted by her employer asking why she had co-operated.
The care home had been sent her name and details of her comments, including the claims about abusive practices and illegal fees.
She told the newspaper:
I no longer feel safe. I thought the Home Office would see me as a victim. Instead, they have exposed me to intimidation and threats from my employer.
Harare-based immigration consultant Nyasha Muteswa said it was unethical for the Home Office investigation team to divulge the name of the whistle-blower to their employer.
The Home Office was quoted by The Observer saying while such information is used to assess the employer, interviewees are protected and details are not routinely disclosed.