THOUSANDS of vulnerable workers in Yorkshire are trapped in a cycle of low wages and mistreatment, a new report has revealed.
The report was carried out by the Trade Union Council’s Commission on Vulnerable Employment – the commission is made up of employers, independent experts and trade unionists.
Their investigations revealed that there are around two million vulnerable workers in the UK and 176,000 in Yorkshire alone.
Yorkshire has the fifth largest number of vulnerable workers in the UK – with 8.4% of the region’s workers falling into the category.
The report urges the Government, employers, unions and consumers to do all they can to end the exploitation of workers and has come up with an action plan.
Those involved in the report said they were shocked by the number of vulnerable workers and by the fact that much of the mistreatment they suffered was actually legal.
The report said that ‘employment practices attacked as exploitative in the 19th century are still common today’.
Brendan Barber, commission chairman and TUC general secretary, said: “All the commissioners were shocked at just how vulnerable some workers are in Yorkshire. Their treatment is a national scandal and we need urgent action. Good employers have nothing to fear, from policies that stop them being undercut by bad employers who break the law or use loopholes to get around it.”
Problems uncovered included agency workers being dismissed without notice, couriers being forced to pay for petrol, and migrant workers working 16-hour production line sessions and sharing beds between shifts.
Security workers were also revealed as being vulnerable, with some firms employing them and saying pay is a month in arrears – then dismissing them months later without having parted with any wages.
The report found that many vulnerable workers do not know their rights or suffer when they try to get them enforced. Others are trapped in poor jobs, because of financial circumstances, because they are migrant workers or because they fall through gaps in employment law.