A future Labour government would introduce new laws to make it a criminal offense for employers to exploit migrant workers through paying lower wages, Ed Miliband will say today.
New laws proposed by Labour could allow for courts to fine, or even jail rogue employers who pay less to migrant job seekers than British workers.
Ed Miliband will say Labour is responding to public concerns about the impact of immigration on Britain’s economy, society and benefits system.
One of those concerns is how employers exploit migrants from other countries workers, by paying lower wages than British workers and offering poorer working conditions. Ed Miliband says this leads to the undermining of wages for British born workers.
Labour would close down loopholes in agency worker laws that allow firms to undercut directly employed staff, ban recruitment agencies from hiring only from abroad, and introduce a new law against ‘extreme’ cases of exploitation.
In order to prove a criminal offence has been committed, evidence would have to be provided that some abuse of power had occurred and that migrants were employed on significantly different terms to local workers. For the first time, it means that undercutting of wages and conditions, although it will not be sufficient on its own, can be used as a piece of evidence of exploitation.
Speaking in Great Yarmouth, Ed Miliband will reiterate his party’s pledge to increase the fines ten-fold for businesses to flout the minimum wage.
Ed Miliband is expected to say: “I am the son of parents who came here as refugees.
“I am proud that Britain enabled them to build a home and family. And I am proud of the contribution that immigrants – of all origins, races, and faiths – have made to our country.
Miliband will say that rather than dismissing concerns about “the real impact of immigration”, he has “changed Labour’s approach” to how the party reacts and responds to the issue.
“People want there to be control of immigration”, said Mr Miliband. “That means being tough on illegal immigration, with proper entry and exit checks. But control doesn’t stop at the border, it is also about fair rules when people get here.”
A future Labour government would also “prevent people coming here claiming benefit for at least two years.” Adding: “Fair rules means people integrating into communities and learning English.”
“But it isn’t just the benefits system that needs to be fair”, Miliband will say. “It is the workplace too. We know that so many workplaces are so far from being fair today. And that is especially true in many workplaces with a large number of employees who have come from overseas.”
Ed Miliband says he’s heard of “truly shocking stories of people having their wages stolen, and having to live in the most appalling conditions, exploited because they come here from abroad”.
“These practices have an effect on local workers too. Because when people can be exploited for low wages or endangered at work, it drags the whole system down, undercutting the pay and conditions of people here.
“We have a plan to change this. We will increase the fines for firms paying below the National Minimum Wage. We will close down loopholes in agency worker laws that allow firms to undercut directly employed staff. We will ban recruitment agencies from hiring only from abroad.
Labour would make it a criminal offence to undercut pay or conditions by exploiting migrant workers.
Ed Miliband says: “We are serving notice on employers who bring workers here under duress or on false terms and pay them significantly lower wages, with worse terms and conditions.
“This new criminal offence will provide protection to everyone. It will help ensure that, when immigrants work here, they do not face exploitation themselves and rogue employers are stopped from undercutting the terms and conditions of everyone else.
Tories & UKIP turning a blind eye
The Tories and UKIP are turning a “blind eye to exploitation”, says Miliband. “Because it is part of the low skill, low wage, fast-buck economy they think Britain needs to succeed.”
“We won’t make false promises on immigration, like David Cameron.
“And we won’t offer false solutions like UKIP—leaving the European union would be a disaster for jobs, business and families.
“Instead, we will offer clear, credible and concrete solutions which help build a country that works for working people again.”