Portuguese migrant workers in the UK can join unions and enforce their rights at work thanks to a new agreement between the British and Portuguese trade union movements.
TUC said the new agreement will help to prevent the exploitation of migrants and the undercutting of existing workers’ wages.
According to TUC, more than 50,000 young Portuguese left the country in 2012, mainly because of high unemployment and lack of job opportunities there.
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 came to London on 28th August 2014 to sign the protocol with TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady at Congress House.
The protocol also covers Portuguese speakers from non-European countries, such as Angola and Brazil, who are working in the UK.
Under the new agreement, Unions will seek to recruit and represent Portuguese speaking migrant workers so they can enforce their rights.
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.”
Mr Carlos pointed out that many Portuguese workers who have emigrated are young and highly skilled. “However they are still, in most cases, doing low-paid jobs in the UK and other countries,” Mr Carlos said. “We hope that this protocol will help Portuguese migrants to understand their rights so that they do not fall prey to exploitative employers trying to employ them on exploitative terms and poverty pay.”