Sunday, August 29, 2010

They come on a promise, and a contract

One of the great tragedies of the world right now has to be the ongoing exploitation of millions of low-income workers through the systemic practice of contract substitution. This happens when workers are recruited in their home countries with one offer, only to face a whole different, and substandard, package when they arrive - and when it's too late for them to do anything about it.

Worrying they'll lose their job, often in debt to recruitment companies in their home countries, they sign, and suffer the consequences for years. Their wages are lower, they have only one or even no days off; sometimes they are put in jobs that are nothing like what they agreed to.

No one seems to measure this – how could you – although international organisations acknowledge it's a problem. A very thorough package by The National's Ramona Ruiz today, however, does a great job of sketching out just how widespread it is. Take a read, please.

Thousands fall victim to broken contracts

Debts carry power of persuasion

And if you ever wonder how this can happen, the answer is power, and lack of it. Here's one heartbreaking story that explains why people don't (why they know they can't) speak up:

Trouble began after complaint made

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