This research by the Refugee Workers Cultural Association, funded by Trust For London, uses data gathered in 2022 to show the perspectives of migrant Turkish and Kurdish workers in North London.
Using responses from over 400 surveys, predominantly from the service industry in North London, it shows a high level of exploitation across Turkish and Migrant communities in the capital. Many respondents had a severe lack of knowledge of basic worker rights, and often limited English, meaning they are vulnerable to exploitation and unable to look for work elsewhere.
In many cases, employers use this to their advantage, setting the floor and ceiling for wages, and often making employees work much longer hours without an increase in pay. Exploitation often takes place within local communities, and sometimes within families themselves.
- A fundamental rights-based approach to migration and development to ensure social protection and right to work for migrant workers in all stages of migration including when they are awaiting decisions on asylum applications.
- London is infamous for extravagant levels of rent. Subsidisation of rent with should be incorporated into the social protection scheme to promote formal work, removal of disparities between being employed and losing access to social security or being unemployed and gaining access to social securities.
- Access to justice must be upheld to ensure these workers who are victims of violations are protected, compensated and perpetrators are sanctioned. There must be legal reassurances to ensure that they are not penalised under employment regulations when reaching out for legal assistance.
- Enforcement of employment rights to ensure decent work conditions for migrants, such as wage equality and conditions with local workers, antidiscrimination policies, occupational health & safety and protect their rights to join and organise in trade unions. Labour and foreign affairs departments must be more effective in following up on cases.
- Development and prioritisation of a campaign against Gender-based violence of women migrant workers. Women are more exposed and vulnerable to infringements of their rights in a male-dominated economy. This is particularly evident for those working in supermarkets and restaurants in positions such as cashiers or waitresses.
- Advocate that low skilled migrant workers should have the same rights as high skilled migrant workers and access to the same services in particular portability of work permits, family reunification and possibilities of permanent settlement. There are significant contrasts between the services Investors from Turkey receive and those who seek asylum.
- A more constructive approach to taxation whereby an emphasis is built upon indirect taxes contributed by those working informally rather than vilification and further alienation across media. All the whilst, Increase awareness of the benefits of formalisation, the costs of informality, and informal economy workers’ positive contributions to society and non-negligible contributions to tax collection to make the case for investing in tax-financed protection instruments as an enabling condition for a gradual transition to formality.
- Government-funded training and education to help eradicate barriers surrounding language and skills. Workers will inevitably grow the confidence to seek formal employment if they are able to fulfil job specifications.
- Reduce costs and complexities to declare workers, and put in place a systemic strategy for an upright alignment of policies, regulations and institutions aimed at enhancing productivity growth, strengthening compliance and enforcement of legal requirements.
Formalisation of their workers should be more feasible for businesses, economically advantageous and should outweigh the benefits of employing them informally.
- Promote freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining between authorities, employers and workers through initiatives to support organisations and representation of Turkish/Kurdish migrant workers, alongside their engagement in social dialogue, as an integral part of efforts to support transition to the formal work.