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A third of London’s EU workers go unpaid and suffer abuse

More than a third of London’s migrant EU construction workers have not been paid for work while 33 per cent have experienced verbal or physical abuse, new research has revealed. 

A survey of non-British EU nationals working in the capital’s construction industry by anti-trafficking group Focus on Labour Exploitation (Flex) found that 36 per cent had experienced not being paid for work they had done.

The research, carried out for a report on London’s construction industry by the organisation, found that half the workers (50 per cent) did not have a written contract and that more than half had been made to work in dangerous conditions (53 per cent).

Data was gathered from a range of workers on different sites from large-scale developments to smaller home improvement jobs.

One respondent to the survey – a day labourer named Darius – said he was made to carry out dangerous tasks at the risk of losing his job.

“They just tied a cable around my waist, and the guy on the roof had another cable around his waist and this is how we did things,” he said.

“I had to do it, otherwise they sent me home. If I said I didn’t want to do it, they would say, ‘Go home, we’ll find another’. And I didn’t have a contract.”

Flex said more money needed to be made available to labour inspection authorities for inspections in the construction sector to combat the issues raised in its report.

The organisation also suggested that a licensing model be established to monitor labour providers and ensure workers within the supply chain were treated fairly.

Flex director Caroline Robinson said: “It is shocking that so many of the people building our homes and offices have not been paid for their work, faced abuse or had to work in dangerous conditions – these are the conditions pushing people into exploitation.

“Unscrupulous employers are getting away with abuse because people are unable or too scared to raise complaints.”

An ONS survey in 2016 found 54 per cent of London construction workforce were migrant workers.

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