This discussion paper looks at migrant workers in the hospitality and tourism industry and who is responsible for exploiting them within the work place.
Exploitation Migrant Workers Hospitality Hotels
The paper submitted aims to evaluate the group responsible for the exploitation of migrant workers in the tourism industry with a particular focus on the hospitality sector. Migrant workers are essential to the workings of the hospitality industry with 6% of the workers in the tourism industry coming from foreign countries. Migrant workers typically fill roles in which are seen as undesirable and low skilled jobs that are hard for management to fill with UK native workers (People 1st). 2004 saw an increase in countries that joined the EU some of these included: Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. Opening the UK labour markets meant that Central and Eastern European country members were allowed to freely move throughout the EU states and work without restrictions, many of the mass migration were Polish. Although many migrant workers are highly trained in their native countries, language barriers and lack of knowledge about their rights causes many problems for many of these workers. These can include difficulty in finding accommodation, opening a bank account and getting paid the correct amount for their job (Ilo.org, 2012).
Due to the boundaries many migrant workers face while working it can open many opportunities for exploitation to occur. This exploitation is something that is not mirrored in workers that know their rights and understand the correct protocol. The conference paper aims to find if it is the responsibility of the government, the employers, the trade unions or the agencies that hire the workers to prevent any further exploitation. The paper will also highlight procedures in place that fight against migrant exploitation in the work place.
A report published by the UK government in 2014 showed that one of the main reasons that exploitation happens within migrant workers is because of their lack of knowledge in trade unions and the absence of migrant workers within the trade unions. 4% of workers in the hotel industry belong to a trade union, thus meaning their knowledge on wages, living conditions and equality is hindered and the employers having power to exploit workers into working conditions that are unacceptable (Blach, 2016). Hotelworkers.org are a London based trade union that assist with many issues regarding unfair treatment to workers and they pride themselves in trying to spread this word to make more migrant workers aware of the help they are able to receive. Trade unions are a voluntary group to be a part of and they are there for assistance when needed and try to improve the conditions of migrant workers. Because of this they are reducing the chance of the migrant workers from exploitation resulting in them having no blame for what happens within the work place.
Agency work is when an external company recruit the employees on behalf of a bigger company, for example many hotel workers are recruited through an agency instead of within the hotel meaning that any problems or responsibilities are held with the recruitment agency not the hotel that the workers are in. These things include wages, workerâ€™s rights and any other issues. Agencies are renowned for underpaying migrant workers, giving them little help with their problems and exploiting them using fear of job loss. A report from the University of Liverpool outlined the issues in tackling exploitation and forced labour in the hotel and hospitality industry. It is suggested that some migrant staff are employed from their home countries and accommodation is provided along with their jobs meaning the workers would feel tied down to a certain job and feel that they are been exploited by the chance of a new job and accommodation to work the hours that hotels require (Balch, 2016). In many cases agency workers are expected to get a certain amount of rooms serviced in a certain amount of time, if they go over this amount of time they may be expected to do unpaid overtime. This put an increasing amount of pressure on the workers and will start to affect their health and living conditions. In many cases workers may be afraid to say anything to their agency in fear of losing their job.
The UK Government set up a group that investigates claims of exploitation of migrant workers with a bid to tackle the problem. All companies that were found to have used behaviour to exploit workers were charged Â£30,000.
It can be very hard to determine the main offender when it comes to exploitation however the agency workers do nothing to improve the situation in which many people work and use fear within the workers to improve the situation for themselves.
Balch, A. 2016. Tackling exploitation and forced labour in the UK hotel sector. (2016). 1st ed. [ebook] Liverpool: University of Liverpool. Available at: http://www.gla.gov.uk/media/1587/tackling-exploitation-and-forced-labour-in-the-uk-hotel-sector.pdf
Gov.uk, (2014). Migration Advisory Committee report on the the growth of European Union (EU) and non-EU labour in low-skilled jobs and its impact on the UK. London: Gov.uk
Ilo.org. (2012). Migrant workers are essential to hotel industry. [online] Available at: http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/newsroom/news/WCMS_185870/lang--en/index.htm