For a soul coming from an underdeveloped or developing country, the quality life being promised by a fully-fledged developed country like the United Kingdom is indeed a blissful joy. Such exuberance is further complemented by the country’s strong commitment to preserve the basic rights. The right to ensure labors earn their due share in a timely manner is mandatory and the existence of regulatory authorities to oversee its compliance further strengthens such surety.
Timely job security is the major prerequisite for a workplace to earn confidence and attract skilful labor in the market. Worst case of the quotation that black sheep do exist in every society can be ‘white sheep are rare’. So can be one of the tips commonly taught to neophyte job seekers by the experienced trouble-less gurus here in the UK. But, alas, even such guidance is missing.
It is for almost every new comer to the country that sterling-crazed selfishly opportune businessmen do not let a chance of ‘earning by swindling’ get wasted. There, it is common for sterling-crazed businesses to violate rules and ignore labor laws, and surprisingly, get missed by so-called strong regulatory agencies. Particularly, for new immigrants or UK-ingenious students, ignoring the minimum wages and neglecting the laborer’s hard-work is something not uncommon. Further as a step forward, the principle of fire-and-forget is considered by them a birthright bestowed upon them by their DISTINCTIVE British citizenship.
The question does arise: whom to seek help for such injustice? Sadly, the answer is still a question mark. This disappointment lets such matters get inhumed easily and quickly. There must be plenty of incidences explaining such misery of institutions there. A few of them witnessed by the writer are narrated following.
A student from Bangladesh ‘Naseem’ arrived in London for studying business. Finding a regular part-time job was a way to get sustained and concentrate on studies without financial woes. After incessant struggle for 2 months, the disheartened mind eventually found job at a laundry shop, owned by his fellow Bangladeshi businessman. Ignorant of Minimum Wages, he agreed to work for 2 Pounds/Hour and was made to work for at least 8 hours/day all over the week by the manager – open violation of 20 hr/week legal restriction for a postgraduate student. Instead of getting paid weekly, he used to be paid with only 40-50 GBP/Week and the remaining used to be promised given in ‘next time’, which is yet to be observed. The guy was fired after fourth months, after an Indian student ‘Vinod’ agreed to offer services for only 35 GBP/Week. The former approached the manager for receiving his dues but was made to wait till expiry of his visa and then the greedy manager succeeded in saving the few pounds earned from such ‘business of dodging’.
Similarly, ‘Rafeeq’ a student in Nottingham was fired from his part-time casual job and his wages of one month were withheld by the Fast Food Takeaway owner on baseless accusations of customer complaints, which were totally proved false later. Moreover, attempt of assault from the takeaway manager and his staff was also reported. The owner of the property appeared to be coming from a famous Pakistani businessman family of Nottingham having couple of restaurants and fast-food shops. His family was actively involved in local community activities and his grand-dad appeared to be local councilor elected from the Berridge Ward, Nottingham. Upon further information it was revealed to the victim that withholding labors’ dues are common in their whole family and most of their workers come from suspicious backgrounds which enables them to ‘blackmail’ them. Further, physical and mental abuse of workers is also a common practice among them.
The victim, as he faced similar tragedies in the past as well from ‘Desi’ business setups, in Birmingham and Sheffield, approached police and sought legal advice from the local Pakistani Community. On approaching, the manager of Pakistan Center, who turned out to be the relative of the perpetrators’ family, easily diverted the matter and the response from the cleric, who is a prominent interfaith dialogue supporter, was also lukewarm.
Naseem and Rafeeq have accounted the tragedies encountered to them, during a year alone, for the sake of not letting rest of students get trapped in future. Secondly, they are quite open and honest in their remarks. But, there must be plenty of such students who are not aware of their rights and prospective employer’s legal responsibilities and then fell prey to such incidents. These are just few of the incidents showing ignorance from the law-enforcement agencies to ensure equal workplace-rights in the UK. There is a need from the state government’s part to help new comer find legalized income sources and thus find sterling-driven UK-sullied atrocities.
The names have been changed to preserve privacy
The writer has just finished his doctorate from Imperial College London