Modern Slavery BillMarch 15th, 2015
No one should be subject to threats, abuse or slavery, but unfortunately too many overseas domestic workers in this country live under these horrendous conditions.
The plight of some overseas domestic workers is simply unacceptable.
I am proud that since 2013 Labour has been working with overseas domestic workers and the charities and campaigners that support them to listen to their experience and seek to force the government to act to untie their visa and stop their suffering.
This work is essential, because as Kalayaan, a charity who work with domestic workers, have found from their research 62% of those on the tied visa they spoke with were paid no salary at all, compared with 14% on the original visa; and 85% did not have their own room, so slept with the children or in the kitchen or lounge, compared with 31% on the original visa. These are just some of the abuses people have had to suffer and it simply isn’t right.
That’s why last year during the passage of the Modern Slavery Bill my colleagues the Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper MP and the Shadow Immigration Minister David Hanson MP tabled the measure that was eventually passed in the Lords to untie the visa and allow overseas domestic workers to switch employers. Labour has voted for this measure to end the abuse of overseas domestic workers at every opportunity, but unfortunately we were stopped by the government voting against it at every vote.
Thankfully, in the House of Lords the measure was able to pass. That means that next week the government will have another chance to listen to the evidence and end the abuse of overseas domestic workers. If I was in parliament, I would be joining with other Labour colleagues and voting for the motion, I only hope the government will not block it yet again.