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National Delegate Conference 17-20 June 2008

UNISON Scotland launches migrant workers' charter

ParliamentAs Conference debates how to combat the far right, UNISON Scotland will today (17 June) take a number of migrant worker members to the Scottish Parliament to talk to MSPs, and to launch a Migrant Workers' Charter, outlining a range of 'good practice' for employers to follow.

The union is planning to campaign to get organisations who employ migrant staff, to sign-up to the charter.The move is the latest in a union wide campaign to avoid exploitation of this vulnerable group of workers. Around 40 migrant workers from right across the globe will meet in Edinburgh today to speak to MSPs and explain the problems they face when coming to Scotland to work.

The meeting has been organised by UNISON, the STUC and the Migrant Rights Network. Present will be Sofi Taylor (UNISON NEC), Mary Senior (AGS - STUC) and Ruth Grove-White (Migrant Rights Network) plus migrant workers from 14 countries from Kenya to the Philippines.

Sofi Taylor, the founder of the union's pioneering Overseas Nurses Network, said, "Migrant workers are vital to the continued operation of a large number of Scotland's industries and services - from food production to care homes.They too often also face exploitation and discrimination. UNISON Annual Conference in Bournemouth is today debating a motion on migrant workers.

Greg Thompson, UNISON's National Development Manager for migrant workers, said: "Migrant workers make a very positive contribution to the fabric of the UK's society and economy, and it is high time this was recognised.

"Many local services would crumble without staff from abroad, and anyone who seeks to hide this fact panders to the agenda of backward looking critics.This ultimately plays into the hands of racists. "The motions we will debate at conference are part of a union wide campaign to ensure that we are doing all that we can to protect this vulnerable group, and will encourage migrant workers to be active in all areas of UNISON."

Dave Watson (UNISON's Scottish organiser said "The Scottish Government and the wider public sector can lead the way in providing a positive image of Scotland for migrant workers, by using their powers as employers and procurers of goods and services to promote best practice."