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   Inside Out - East Midlands: Monday September 19, 2005


Migrant Workers

Worker in field
Migrant workers - jobs on the land but at what price?

For some they are the backbone of the economy but for others they are a threat. Inside Out investigates the growing number of migrant workers in the East Midlands.

There's an influx of a new type of foreign worker who has come to the region to make a living.

Young, highly educated women are leaving their families behind to come to Lincolnshire's towns and villages to earn money for a better life.

Yet they aren't welcomed by everyone.

But what is the reality? How do the new migrants live?

We've discovered one farmer who has spent £2m building accommodation complete with a sports centre, and runs it like a boarding school, to keep his workers happy.

New lives in Lincolnshire

Elena and Darshute have new lives in the Lincolnshire market town of Boston.

Both are part of the new wave of migrants coming to the county from Eastern Europe.

"I can earn more money in one week here than I can earn in months in Latvia."
Alona, migrant worker

Darshute has come to England in search of work.

"There are no jobs where I come from," she says.

Alona left her home in Latvia two years ago. She's got a degree in law and economics, but was prepared to come over here to work on the land.

Darshute tells the same story - in Lithuania she worked as the deputy head of social services.

But with monthly wages of £100 and a worsening economy, she and her husband paid to come to Lincolnshire to try for a better life.


Many migrant workers are subject to such levels of exploitation and control that they meet the international legal definition of 'forced labour'.

It is believed that there could be 3,000 rogue gangmasters operating nationwide.

Job sectors with high numbers of migrant workers include construction, hospitality, agriculture, food processing, horticulture, contract cleaning, nursing and care homes.

There have been several fatalities involving migrant workers employed in the UK.

In one notable incident more than 20 Chinese workers died picking cockles in Morecambe Bay.

Workplace deaths in the UK are increasing and there is a danger that we could soon start to see more fatalities and serious injuries at work as language barriers mean safety messages are going over workers' heads.

Employers have a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act to provide all their employees with the appropriate safety training to enable them to do their jobs without risk of illness or injury.

However the TUC found that safety training delivered in English was not being sufficiently well understood by migrant workers. This prompted the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the TUC to publish a new safety leaflet for employers translated into 19 different languages.

Source: TUC

Jobs on the land

Some commentators call this form of work ''cowboy capitalism'.

And many agencies and trade unions believe that migrant workers are among the most vulnerable of all workers.

A recent TUC report reveals a number of problems for migrant workers including:

- very long hours
- pay below minimum wage
- dangerous working conditions

In their defence, employers say foreign workers are filling the jobs that local people just don't want.

There are 70,000 agricultural workers who are thought to be foreign nationals in Lincolnshire.

What used to be seasonal work is now year-round, fuelled by consumers and supermarkets wanting fresh vegetables 24 hours a day, 12 months a year.

But this explosion in the workforce has put extreme pressure on accommodation and led to some unscrupulous gangmasters exploiting desperate foreign workers.

The influx started with Portuguese workers arriving, but now Eastern Europe is becoming the favoured recruiting ground.

But what happens when it all goes wrong?

Inside Out visits Boston's only drop-in centre for homeless people which has been left to pick up the pieces.

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Malcolm X

Journey back in time - Benjamin Zephaniah visits Smethwick

In 1965, the radical civil rights leader Malcolm X paid an unannounced visit to Smethwick, in the West Midlands.

Forty years on, poet Benjamin Zephaniah travels to the Black Country to retrace the steps of one of his heroes and find out why the American activist decided to drop in on the small industrial town.

He talks to some of the people who met Malcolm X back in the 1960s, and discovers that the unexpected visit still has an impact on Smethwick to this day.

"We didn't land on Plymouth Rock, my brothers and sisters - Plymouth Rock landed on us!"

Malcolm X

Malcolm X visited Birmingham on 12th February 1965.

He believed that parts of Smethwick were rife with racial conflict, fuelled by local and national politicians seeking election in the area.

During his visit he drank in a local pub, walked down Marshall Street and gave several interviews.

Malcolm X
Malcolm X - civil rights campaigner

Only nine days later, Malcolm X was murdered in Harlem, New York City at the Audubon Ballroom.

Despite his murder, Malcolm X remains one of the world's most revered and controversial civil rights activists.

His teachings and speeches are still influential, even though it is 40 years since his death.


Born Malcolm Little in 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska.

The family's home was burned to the ground by the white supremacist organisation The Black Legion in 1929.

Malcolm was a good student but dropped out of school and worked in a variety of odd jobs.

Sentenced to ten years for burglary in 1946 but paroled after seven years.

Appointed as a minister and national spokesperson for the Nation of Islam.

Founded his own religious organisation, the Muslim Mosque Inc.

Repeated attempts on his life.

Assassinated New York in 1965 aged 39-years-old.

He was born Malcolm Little, but changed his name to 'Malcolm X' after a period in prison and studying the teachings of Elijah Muhammad.

He considered the name 'Little' to be a slave name and chose 'X' to signify his lost tribal name.

Later Malcolm X was to change his name to the Holy name of 'El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz' following a trip to Mecca.

Malcolm X wrote extensively about human rights, and he was a gifted and charismatic orator.

Amongst his most famous quotes is this statement about human rights:

"Human rights are something you were born with. Human rights are your God-given rights. Human rights are the rights that are recognised by all the nations of this earth."

Malcolm X's vision has been an influence on today's black leaders and youth, including some of those who met him in the Midlands in 1965.

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Vietnamese woman
Eastern journey - a mission to help the Vietnamese

By the time most people reach the grand old age of 84, they’re ready to take life a little easier.

But for one doctor nothing could be further from the truth.

Every year Madeleine Sharp sets out for Vietnam on an aid mission to help those still suffering from the war.

Inside Out joined her on her latest trek east and soon discovered that unless a new generation like Madeleine come forward, a vital lifeline for thousands of Vietnamese will end forever.

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