The British and Portuguese trade union movements will sign a co-operation protocol later today (Thursday), aimed at ensuring Portuguese migrant workers in the UK can join unions and enforce their rights at work. The new agreement will help to prevent the exploitation of migrants and the undercutting of existing workers’ wages, says the TUC.
Over 50,000 youngsters emigrated from Portugal in 2012, mainly because of high unemployment and lack of job opportunities there, says the TUC. Many will have come to Britain, and to London in particular, as the capital already has a large Portuguese community. According to recent census data the number of Portuguese-born people living in the UK has more than doubled over the last decade to 88,161.
The General Secretary of the General Confederation of the Portuguese Workers (CGTP-IN – the Portuguese equivalent of the TUC) Armenio Carlos will be travelling to London to sign the protocol with TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady at Congress House at 11.30am on Thursday. Photographs will be available afterwards and it will be possible to interview Armenio Carlos beforehand from 9am onwards, by arrangement.
*** Journalists wishing to interview Armenio Carlos or obtain photos of the protocol signing should contact the TUC press office ***
The protocol also covers Portuguese speakers from non-European countries, such as Angola and Brazil, who are working in the UK. Unions will seek to recruit and represent these migrant workers so they can enforce their rights, and a guide to workplace rights in Portuguese will be posted on the TUC website.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This new co-operation between unions across borders will benefit everyone except bad employers and lousy landlords. It will help protect Portuguese arrivals from mistreatment, and make it difficult for employers who rely upon individuals’ lack of experience to pay them less than the rate for the job.”
CGTP-IN General Secretary Armenio Carlos said: “The neo-liberal policies of the EU and most of its governments are causing a severe recession in Portugal and provoking mass unemployment.
“As a result the country is experiencing massive emigration – nearly 300,000 workers have left in the last three years alone.
“We are now talking of a very different type of immigrants – young and highly skilled. However they are still, in most cases, doing low-paid jobs in the UK and other countries.
“We hope that this protocol will help Portuguese migrants to understand their rights so that they do not fall to prey to exploitative employers trying to employ them on exploitative terms and poverty pay.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk
- Follow the TUC on Twitter: @tucnews
- Congress 2014 will be held in the BT Convention Centre, Liverpool, from Sunday 7 September to Wednesday 10 September. Free media passes can be obtained by visiting www.tuc.org.uk/media-credentials and completing an online form. Applications must be in by noon on Wednesday 27 August. Any received later than that will be processed in Liverpool and will cost £75.