Blog: The shocking treatment of migrant workers harms us all

The government should stop demonising migrants, instigate reform and create a national care service

UNISON has gathered evidence of appalling exploitation of migrant workers by unscrupulous care bosses.

Care is one of the biggest industries in the UK, but also one of the most precarious. It’s broken, on the brink of collapse and only being propped up by the work of migrants.

Workers from abroad have sold everything they own to come here and care for people. But instead of receiving decent pay and conditions, and being treated with dignity and respect, the UK government is letting employers get away with terrible practices that should be consigned to history.

Our report, Expendable Labour details shocking treatment of migrant care workers in the UK care system.

We found the ultimate abuse of workers. Brought over here on false promises of a better life and charged dodgy fees that cost them their homes and savings. Some find they’re either overworked on 80 hours a week, or given too few hours to survive off. Given inadequate training, living in poor conditions and threatened with deportation if they speak out.

To top it off, ministers are demonising migrant workers by blaming them for all the country’s woes. They’re complicit in allowing the abuse to continue and in a raging culture war that’s now targeting low paid migrant workers.

Rather than focusing on fixing social care and ensuring decent pay and care for those who need it, the likes of Robert Jenrick, Minister for Immigration, are happy to see the care system completely collapse. His suggestions of capping visas for care workers and his desire to prevent them from bringing children or other dependent family members with them, will only make the problems in care worse.

Any increase on the current 152,000 care staff vacancies spells deep trouble for the whole sector.

So we’re calling on the government to take urgent action to stop that from happening.

Immigration reform and the creation of a national care service are the answer.

Visa extensions would allow care workers more time to seek employment with a new sponsor, and a national care service would ensure decent pay, terms and conditions to prevent abuse and exploitation.

Fixing social care ultimately means guaranteed support for those who need it. But it would also help to grow our economy. And what better way to do it, than through a national care service that everyone can be proud of.