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Siu Index
April/May 2007 No 66

Unions demand protection for vulnerable workers

STUC delegates exposed the exploitation faced by vulnerable workers and demanded changes in the law to protect them.

Disabled worker Paul Brown said, "Workers are not vulnerable because they are disabled, immigrant, young or women but because the law fails to protect them from exploitative employers".

UNISON's Fiona Smith, speaking for the General Council, warned of the rise in work poverty. "Too many women are employed as home workers with no protection or minimum wage and too many migrant workers are employed below their skill levels and are exploited", she said.

And Matt Smith called on the Scottish Executive to set up migrant support working group with unions and community organisations to "tackle issues such as education, language and racism".

UNISON's Stephen Smellie laid out the initiatives UNISON has taken like setting up the overseas nurses network and its work on direct payments for personal services for people with disabilities.

UNISON has initiated a project with disabled peoples' organisations, the Scottish Personal Assistants Employer's Network and UNISON's disabled members' group, to jointly develop guidance for the protection of these workers. "We are comfortable with direct payments as a way to empower disabled people to recruit, employ and manage their own support services. However, this does leave a pool of vulnerable lone workers and it is important they are well supported and organised", he told the Congress.

UNISON's work with the overseas nurses network, spearheaded by Sofi Taylor, was featured in a video presentation on how trade unions are reaching out to migrant workers. See www.unison-scotland.org.uk and click on Overseas Nurses Network.

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