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LOW-PAID migrant workers have been left feeling “insecure” and “unwelcome” by the government’s planned new immigration rules, trade unions told the Morning Star today.
They reported receiving a flurry of calls from members concerned about their status and future in Britain.
The government’s proposed immigration policy would see Britain’s borders closed to non-English-speaking and “low-skill” migrant workers.
Home Secretary Priti Patel claims the new system will “move away” from “cheap labour” and towards retaining staff and automation.
However, United Voices of the World (UVW), a union representing low-paid migrant workers, said that the proposals “give rise to a culture and air of anti-immigrant sentiment.”
General secretary Petros Elia said: “Everyone is very nervous. There is an air of uncertainty.
“Obviously, some people will say it’s a misinterpretation of the law as the legislation only affects future migrants … but I think it’s totally understandable for people to be worried that further legislation could be passed affecting migrants that are here.”
Justiano Arbelaiz Almanzar, a Colombian with Spanish citizenship who works in the social-care sector, rushed to seek advice from UVW after hearing the news.
“How can the government do this to people like me, people working with elderly people…?,” he asked.
Mr Almanzar told the Star that he struggles to make ends meet, just covering his rent with the small salary he receives from doing work that Brits don’t want to do.
He added: “These jobs are very difficult. It’s on us, we clean and give dignity to the elderly, but there is no law to protect us. We need to be more recognised.”
The social-care sector is one of those worst hit by the new proposals – even though it already faces a huge staffing crisis, with 120,000 posts vacant.
Susanna Benavidez, a former cleaner at Top Shop in Oxford Street who is now a UVW organiser, branded the planned new law “racist” and “discriminatory.”
She said: “For somebody to clean a toilet, you don’t need to speak to the toilet in English to clean it.”
Migrant Voice said that it was understandable that people who had lived here for years but don’t meet the criteria would feel “unwelcome” and “unvalued.”
Director Nazek Ramadan said: “We must stop equating salary with value and recognise that we need these workers here.
“Without them, our communities would be financially, socially and culturally poorer.”
Unite assistant general secretary Diane Holland said: “Migrant workers have contributed and do contribute greatly to our economy and country.
“Today’s proposals must not create hostility to these workers.”
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