WHAT: Migrant domestic workers hand in petition to home secretary Theresa May MP
WHEN: Thursday 24 March 2016, 13:00
WHERE: The Home Office, Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF
Campaigners from Unite the union, Justice for Domestic Workers, Walk Free and Kalayaan will be handing in a petition to the home secretary Theresa May today (Thursday 24 March), demanding changes to the visa scheme to give victims of domestic slavery a real chance of freedom.
Every year 17,000 overseas domestic workers are brought to UK. Since 2012 they have not been allowed to change employer and find new work, leaving thousands of workers trapped in situations of modern slavery and unable to escape exploitation for fear of arrest and deportation.
Under the terms of the government’s ‘tied visa’ scheme, which was introduced in April 2012, overseas domestic workers cannot legally leave their employer and find new work.
After pressure from campaigners the government recently announced changes to the scheme and to ‘untie visas’ allowing overseas domestic workers to change employers, but only within a period of six months.
Campaigners are demanding that minsters go further and allow overseas domestic workers to apply for a two year extension to their visa, instead of the proposed six months.
Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: “The government’s own independent review and the House of Lords have agreed that the tied visa is unjust and that we need to restore rights to migrant domestic workers. There is an important opportunity to right this fundamental wrong. We call on the government to address this shameful injustice and to end this modern day slavery.”
Marissa Begonia Coordinator of Justice 4 Domestic Workers said: “Four years on, the tied visa means a long delay in justice for the already vulnerable migrant domestic workers. To end modern slavery is to untie the tied ‘slave’ visa. Justice delayed is justice denied.”
Joanna Ewart-James of Walk Free said: "Over 60,000 Walk Free supporters from around the world have petitioned the UK government. Like me, they know that ending modern slavery is not always simple. But on this occasion, by allowing overseas domestic workers to extend their visa as well as change employer, these particularly vulnerable workers are easily empowered, resulting in a quick and direct impact towards ending modern slavery within private households."
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors:
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.