A government minister has seen a groundbreaking TUC-run project that is providing vulnerable workers in London's East End with badly needed employment advice. Minister for employment relations Pat McFadden met with local workers at the TUC's Vulnerable Workers Project (VWP) this week. VWP, based in Whitechapel, is a £400,000 project funded by the Department for Business (BERR). The pilot, which started preparatory work in April last year before being launched in November, focuses on workers in the cleaning, security and building services sectors working in the City of London and Tower Hamlets. It offers support, advice and training for workers experiencing problems, and free training on employment rights for local employers. Already hundreds of workers have turned to the project for help. Pat McFadden said the government has brought in employment rights on topics including health and safety, the minimum wage and flexible working. He added: 'Most employers do the right thing and implement these rights fairly, but there are dark corners of the labour market where rogue employers try to exploit people, so it's vital we enforce the law to protect vulnerable workers' rights. That's why we're doubling the number of agency inspectors to investigate abuses and boosting penalties for those who break agency laws or don't pay the national minimum wage.' TUC general Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'The VWP has heard from workers in London who are working excessively long hours, have no contract of employment, are receiving low pay or are not being paid for all the hours they work, and are not getting any health and safety training. Unions are keen to help workers stop rogue employers from using an ignorance of UK employment law or a poor grasp of English or as an excuse to treat people badly.'
Issued: 23 May, 2008