Gangsters make migrants work on building site for 0,5€ an hour
Ruthless gangmasters are putting migrants to work on building sites for as little as 22p an hour. The scandalous pay abuse saw one man get £8.80 for a 39-hour week and another £66 for 70 hours. Mean bosses are illegally deducting large sums from wages for rent and utility bills - leaving many workers destitute. One had £228 taken in a week for tools.
Despite grafting round the clock, most do not get overtime, sick pay or holidays. Scandalously, the worst example of the modern-day slavery was found on a £600million Government redevelopment site. But with 800,000 immigrants having arrived from Eastern Europe in four years, it is feared the abuse could be far more widespread.
According UCATT "This case is the worst we have seen, these workers were virtually destitute. "We have been building up a big file on abuses of ganged workers.
"The fact it has occurred on a Private Finance Initiative site using taxpayers money is scandalous." In the worst case the Mirror uncovered, Lithuanian men were recruited to work on the Government site by small dry wall lining firm called Produm Ltd.
Payslips show on top of money deducted for accommodation, each man had £76.80 taken weekly as their payment to the "construction industry scheme". This basically registers them as self-employed - meaning their employer does not have to pay National Insurance But it is in breach of the law because none of the workers are believed to have given consent.
The pay abuse only came to light after some workers' wages stopped altogether with Produm owing up to five weeks' pay. Last night most of the workers were too frightened to talk. But one colleague, who refused to be named, said: "At the beginning of this month there were seven workers living in a cramped three bedroom flat in Mansfield. They cycle to work every day and are very hard grafters. "They are being paid around £6 an hour but were hit heavily by illegal deductions which left them with next to nothing to take home. "One week Produm took rent or tool money, then they'd take for utility bills, it was unbelievable. "They struggled to find money for food some weeks. £8.80 won't even get you a few pints." The migrants had been working at the Kings Mill hospital site in Mansfield, Notts, which is a closelymonitored development. According to industry guidelines, workers there should earn a basic £7.31 an hour.
Experts said wages of the man paid £8.80 for 39 hours makes a mockery of the National Minimum Wage, which is £5.52 an hour. Ucatt spokesman Steve Murphy said: "When I first found out I thought it's like living in a Third World country. The workers are signed up as bogus self-employed, meaning they are not entitled to holiday pay or sick pay, basically they have no rights."
The Mansfield site is managed by construction giant Skanska, which dishes out most of the building work to sub-contractors. It is believed Produm operates a rolling migrant workforce with around 15 workers on the development at any one time. The Mirror tried contacting bosses at Produm yesterday but calls were not returned. The business is registered to an address in Huddersfield. which comes up as the Mason's Arms pub in a directory inquiries search.
All three directors of Produm Ltd are Lithuanian and are also listed as heading Produm Cleaning Ltd. Ucatt has now held a meeting with the companies concerned including the main sub-contractor Baris, which recruited Produm.
There was agreement that workers would get back-pay, would have excessive deductions repaid and other enhancements. Skanska said it was only alerted to the pay abuse 11 days ago. It said: "It was brought to our attention one of our first-tier subcontractors was engaging a subcontractor that was allegedly not remunerating employees in accordance with The National Working Rule Agreement of the Construction Industry Joint Council. "It was further alleged that there were deductions from individuals not in accordance with the NWRA.