Work Rights Centre co-signs letter calling for government review of Seasonal Worker Visa Scheme

By Emma McClelland, Adis Sehic - 28 March 2023

On Monday 27 March, an investigation published by VICE World News and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) reported on the widespread mistreatment of migrants working under the Seasonal Worker Visa (SWV) Scheme on British farms. 

Having provided them with some of  our own research and case study data into the pitfalls of the scheme, we were pleased to see the results of this in-depth investigation; a sensitively written expose that centres the voices and experiences of seasonal workers.

Today, following the publication of this investigation, 19 organisations and academics, including the Work Rights Centre, have published a public letter calling on the government to take urgent action to address the risks of the scheme, including by:

  • Tackling the known risks to workers at the point of recruitment, including by establishing government-to-government agreements with sending countries to protect workers and by significantly increasing funding for oversight of overseas labour providers;
  • Preventing debt bondage, including by ensuring that no recruitment or migration fees or costs are charged to or borne by seasonal migrant workers and guaranteeing a minimum income to workers for the duration of their stay in the UK;
  • Preventing exploitation on UK farms, by ensuring workers have accessible complaints processes and removing barriers that prevent workers leaving abusive and potentially exploitative employers or a job that does not give them enough work or income; and
  • Ensuring SWV scheme compliance, by appointing an independent agency to uphold labour standards on the scheme, properly resourcing inspection and enforcement of workplaces and facilitating worker access to compensation.

The letter was sent to the Home Office, the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, the Director of Labour Market Enforcement and the Migration Advisory Committee, and calls for them to ‘act now to stop abuse and exploitation of migrant farm workers’. You can read the full letter and list of signatories here

To support the Work Rights Centre in our efforts to assist migrant workers, including those on Seasonal Worker Visas, please consider making a donation or following us on social media.

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