New Inquiry into the treatment of migrant workers

Research on employment equity in the meat processing industry 21 October 2008. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has announced a formal Inquiry into the employment and recruitment practices in the meat processing sectors in England and Wales.

The meat processing industry is characterised by low pay, and has become reliant on agency and migrant workers.

The inquiry will look into the pay and conditions of agency and temporary workers who do the same jobs as permanent or directly employed staff. On average, agency staff receive lower normal and overtime pay than their permanent colleagues and have different holiday and sick pay entitlements.

The Inquiry will gather evidence from individuals, meat processing companies, agency labour providers and other organisations over the next six months. The Commission will also be commissioning independent research.

The Commission has the power to conduct an Inquiry, to report on its findings and to make recommendations.

Trevor Phillips, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:
‘We know that there are good examples of companies and employment agencies who treat these workers fairly, but there are concerns about inequality in recruitment and employment practices in other companies and we want to ensure that fair treatment is the norm across the sector rather than the exception.’

At the end of the Inquiry the Commission will report its findings and make recommendations on how to improve the terms and conditions for certain migrant and agency workers in the meat processing sector where there is found to be poor practice.

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