Migrant care workers fighting for justice

Workers for a care company based at Malmarc House in Beeston have alleged they are being underpaid, provided with unfit accommodation and suffering emotional and financial distress.

The company, Gloriavd Health Care Ltd, provides domiciliary (home) care to elderly and disabled people in Leeds and Bath and recruits staff from countries such as Ghana and Zimbabwe.

The Home Office added care workers to the UK’s shortage occupation list in 2022 to help fill 165,000 vacancies in care homes and domiciliary (home) care.

But workers expecting a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work and finding they are given little work and are being housed in cramped and cold rooms. They say complaints are met with the threat of reporting them to the Home Office, the implication being they will be deported.

Diana Wadzanai, a former employee of Gloriavd explained:

‘’When I came from Zimbabwe, I was told the company would provide accommodation and work in Leeds. Unfortunately, I was told I was going to work in Bath. When we arrived we found out we were going to share a small room with bunkbeds. We were 12 adults in one room. I worked only one and a half days, but we stayed for two weeks.

“When we ran out of food we called our boss for a meeting – this led us into a disciplinary hearing. When we started work in March, we would do 8 hours per week or less despite being contracted to 39 hours.

“When we tried to reach out we would be threatened by being sent back to our countries. I was dismissed unfairly and appealed and got my job back but still they had no work.

“This has affected my health as well, stress and depression and I have been in and out of hospital because of going through this. My children in my country have suffered because I couldn’t provide for them.’’

Lee Nemukuyu, is another former employee of Gloriavd, he said:

“I was working with Gloriavd from January to May 2023. The company had no hours to the extent that l only worked two or 3 three hours a week, maybe no hours some weeks. I understand all companies face problems but it was the way they treated us that was very stressful. They were constantly threatening to cancel the contract, always looking for faults and at every given opportunity to tell us this was not our country this is the UK. They took advantage of our lack of knowledge at the time as we were new in the country. We received as low as £60 as salary per month which was a breach of the contract we signed. That time was very difficult and stressful.’’

Gloriavd employees told The Guardian that they had to pay thousands of pounds in fees to secure employment despite work visas costing only a few hundred pounds.

The care workers are now fighting back with the help of ACORN, the community union, and have started demanding fair pay and improvements to their working conditions.

Dave Aldwinkle, an ACRORN organiser in Leeds, commented:

“This isn’t just happening in Leeds it’s happening to tens of thousands of workers across the UK. We’ve seen ACORN members living in inhumane accommodation, living in fear, struggling to get by.

“Not only are the workers suffering, but the service users are suffering as well. This is not just about our members, it’s about the poor quality of care. This is a community issue and it affects everyone. This is why ACORN is not going to stop until we win – not just in Leeds, but in every town and city in the UK.”

Since starting this campaign, ACORN say they have won thousands in compensation for one member, and have a commitment from Gloriavd Health Care to negotiate terms.

Gloriavd Health Care was found to ‘Need Improvement’ when it was inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in March 2023.

Speaking to The Guardian via lawyers, Gloriavd said it “did not accept money from care workers in exchange for facilitating their relocation to the UK.”

 

This post is based on a press release issued by ACORN

Photo: Gloriavd Health Care is based at Malmarc House in Beeston. Credit: Jeremy Morton

 

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