Page last updated at 07:59 GMT, Wednesday, 10 September 2008 08:59 UK

Detainees 'exploited' for labour

Campsfield House
Campsfield House houses people who are waiting for deportation

Detainees at an immigration removal centre in Oxfordshire are being "exploited" for cheap labour due to staffing cuts, a trade union claims.

Oxford and District Trades Union said detainees at Campsfield House in Kidlington, are being paid 5-a-day for six hours of cleaning and kitchen work.

The Home Office said detainees were exempt from the minimum wage and none of them were forced to work.

The centre has been the scene of previous riots and mass break-outs.

Last month up to 70 detainees staged a hunger strike led by a group of Iraqi Kurds protesting at the threat of being deported back to Iraq, where they said their lives would be at risk.

Tracey Ellicott, spokesperson for Campaign to Close Campsfield, said: "I've been visiting one of the detainees recently who said he had been offered a job doing some cleaning.

This is voluntary and we are constantly looking for new opportunities to meet demand for this work
UK Border Agency spokesperson

"He said they are locked up for 24 hours-a-day and this gives them something to do.

"But it is undermining the work done to ensure everyone is entitled to a minimum wage - they are not even getting one pound an hour."

Oxford and District Trades Union also expressed fears the workers do not receive adequate training or supervision.

In a statement it said: "It is bad for the detainees, who are in a vulnerable position in detention and are being super-exploited.

"It may be bad for the standards of care and cleanliness in the centre.

"We are concerned that staffing levels have been cut.

"Jobs should be properly paid and be done by trained staff."

But a UK Border Agency spokesperson said: "All detained persons are provided with an opportunity and encouraged to participate in activities to meet their recreational and intellectual needs.

"Individuals are entitled to undertake paid activities at rates approved by the Secretary of State.

"This is voluntary and we are constantly looking for new opportunities to meet demand for this work."




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SEE ALSO
Protest urges Campsfield closure
23 Aug 08 |  Oxfordshire
Hunger strike over at Campsfield
21 Aug 08 |  Oxfordshire
Detainees continue hunger strike
18 Aug 08 |  Oxfordshire
Asylum seekers on hunger strike
12 Aug 08 |  Oxfordshire
Campsfield claims 'unsurprising'
15 Jul 08 |  Oxfordshire

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