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IMMIGRATION detainees who earn as little as £1 an hour are asking the Court of Appeal in London to intervene over the low-pay regime.
Their lawyers say that the Home Office must pay detainees more for cleaning and maintenance work they perform while held in immigration removal centres.
New figures obtained by the Morning Star show that detainees worked a total of 37,483 hours in March 2019 but were paid just £39,216. If they had received the minimum wage of £7.83 an hour then they would have earned an extra £254,275.
In the first three months of this year they were deprived of an estimated three quarters of a million pounds in wages, the Morning Star’s analysis of Home Office data has found. And since the work regime began over a decade ago, detainees have missed out on at least £28 million in wages.
The detainee’s lawyer, Philip Armitage from Duncan Lewis Solicitors, said: “Once again, the latest figures obtained by the Morning Star show how much the Home Office and private contractors rely upon exploitative £1-per-hour labour to ensure immigration removal centres keep running.
“If every immigration detainee stopped working tomorrow, over 35,000 hours a month of hard labour would have to be done by outside contractors at the national minimum wage.”
The High Court recently refused permission for detainees to challenge the low-pay regime, but Mr Armitage has vowed to fight on.
“We remain determined to assist our clients challenging this policy and have lodged an appeal to the Court of Appeal.”
The Home Office routinely defends the scheme. A spokesman said: “The longstanding practice of offering paid activities to people in immigration detention centres helps to keep them occupied whilst their removal is being arranged.
“This practice is not a substitute for the work of trained staff due to the voluntary nature of the roles offered to detainees.
“Whether or not they wish to participate is entirely up to the detainees themselves, but the numbers of detainees volunteering for paid activities across the detention estate is evidence that the jobs are popular.”
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