Sordid reality comes to light during Northampton Crown Court hearing
9th December 2010: The sordid reality of migrants’ journey from hope to despair has come to light during Northampton Crown Court hearing.
In search of greener pastures in alien lands, dozens of starry eyed migrant workers leave for the UK. Full of hopes for better quality of life, they expect to receive good standards of living, decent home and better wages. But the reality that stares at them is much worse than the one they could have ever imagined. In fact, it is nothing less than a life of slavery.
The Court was told their day began at dawn. Packed in an overcrowded and dangerous minibus, they would be driven for two-and-a-half hours to the leek farm. In fact, as many as 20 workers would be pushed into a bus for just 12.
Exhausted, the drivers would sometimes fall asleep at the wheel. The brakes and seatbelts were often non-functional; the tyres and the lights were no better.
The back-breaking work would often last for 13 hours a day, six days a week. The job included pulling the leeks from the ground before trimming them with a razor-sharp knife and cutting off the roots and leaves.
Freezing cold and pouring rain notwithstanding, they worked year-round without water-proof clothing.
Failure to fill the quota would see them work into the night. To make the matters worse, the migrant workers were often paid less than promised. The gangmasters too would make dishonest deductions from their wages without any warning.
After the long journey home, they would find themselves in houses unfit for human habitation. The workers were dumped in filthy, damp and cold houses in Kettering, Peterborough and Coventry and charged a day’s wages for each week’s stay.
Badly infested with insects and rats, some of the workers were left with bites all over their bodies.