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Friday, 10 October 2014

Modern Slavery Bill in HoC, Tues 14 October 2014

Unite Community Coordinator, London Coalition Against Poverty activist and KUWG member Robin Sivapalan has written re the Modern Slavery Bill that will be discussed in the House of Commons next week. (See below.)

American topical songwriter Phil Ochs wrote in an anti-Vietnam War song 'What are You Fighting For':
Oh, there's many kinds of slavery, and we've found many more.
I know you're set for fighting, but what are you fighting for.
In KUWG, we experience a form of slavery in the way we are treated at the jobcentre, etc via 'Active Labour Movement Policies' such as JobSeekers Allowance and the Work Related Activity Group of Employment & Support Allowance 'conditionality' with all their sanctioning power stripping us of bargaining power. Lobbying by global corporations who want to treat the world as their oyster by weakening citizens' safety nets to reduce the workforces' bargaining power is a major driving factor in the institution of 'Active Labour Movement Policies' into member countries of trading blocks.

But at least we still have citizenship rights and can use the ambient language to form links of solidarity with others in a similar situation and build solidarity. With and through that, we can advocate greater rights for all oppressed people as potential allies to one another rather than our oppressor's 'divide and rule' fodder.

On that note, while I hand over to Robin Sivapalan's message, I note that that there is some confusion over whether the Bill will be debated on Tuesday 14 October.

Swheatie of the KUWG

Robin writes:
"The Modern Slavery Bill is being debated next Tuesday 14th Oct in Parliament. It may be too late to sign this as organisations now, though it should be controversial, but please at least write to your MPs. [Swheatie notes: If you don't know your MP's contact details yet, you can check them out on the They Work For You.com website.]
I've copied in Marissa, the Justice for Domestic Workers co-ordinator, if you want more info. It really is an inspiring campaign, and could do with support more generally.

We are writing to urge your support for David Hanson’s proposed amendment to the Modern Slavery Bill to strengthen protections for Overseas Domestic Workers;

To move the following Clause—

“Protection from slavery for overseas domestic workers

(1) All overseas and domestic workers including those working for staff of

diplomatic missions shall be entitled to—

(a) change their employer (but not work sector) while in the United


(b) renew their domestic worker or diplomatic domestic worker visa , each such renewal being for

periods not exceeding twelve months as long as they remain in employment

and are able to support themselves without recourse to public


(c) a three month temporary visa permitting them to live in the United

Kingdom for the purposes of seeking alternative employment as an

overseas domestic worker where there is evidence that the worker has

been a victim of modern slavery.”

Enabling migrant domestic workers to change employer and apply to renew their visa annually if in full time employment would be a significant step towards preventing abuses against migrant domestic workers, including forced labour, by their employers and enabling them to seek redress without fearing deportation from the UK. Human Rights Watch, Kalayaan + XXXXX strongly support this amendment and hope you will give it your vote.

Evidence since the introduction of the tied ODW visa in 2012 demonstrates how the current tied visa system facilitates the abuse of migrant domestic workers in the UK and undermines the objectives of the Modern Slavery Bill to fight modern slavery and ensure perpetrators are held accountable for their crime. The report of the Joint Committee on the Draft Modern Slavery Bill identified the 2012 policy changes as having ‘unintentionally strengthened the hand of the slave master against the victim of slavery’ and that "tying migrant domestic workers to their employer institutionalizes their abuse". This supports the evidence produced by Human Rights Watch in the report ‘Hidden Away: Abuses against Migrant Domestic Workers in the UK’ and Kalayaan’s briefing ‘Still enslaved: The migrant domestic workers who are trapped by the immigration rules’.

Our organisations believe that allowing migrant domestic workers to change employer and renew their domestic worker visa for up to twelve months at a time would greatly improve protections for this group of workers who are particularly vulnerable to abuse. We encourage members of the Public Bill Committee to vote in support of this amendment.

Yours sincerely


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