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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 August 2007, 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK
Migrants like 'modern day slaves'
Migrant worker accommodation - Sue Smith
Sue Smith took this picture of migrant worker accommodation
Some migrant workers in Scotland are being treated like "modern day slaves", according to campaigners.

Sue Smith, who campaigns for foreign labourers in Angus, said promises of good accommodation and pay quickly disappear when they arrive.

Two Polish workers told BBC Scotland that after two weeks of labour they actually owed the farmer money.

A Scottish Executive spokesman said it was working to ensure migrant workers in Scotland knew their rights.

Housing and homelessness charity Shelter Scotland said living conditions were unacceptable.

Concerns about migrant worker accommodation were raised after a Czech man, Petr Adamik, died in a caravan fire at an unlicensed site on a farm in Arbroath in April this year.

'Bare mattresses'

Ms Smith has urged politicians to act to improve the conditions for migrant workers.

She started campaigning to improve the lives of eastern European people in Arbroath after the murder of another Czech man by a drug addict in the town in 2005.

Ms Smith has gathered images and accounts of working and living conditions at farms in the area.

"I have been able to go on to a few of these farms and actually seen the conditions for myself," she said.

In some cases people are risking their lives to live in unsafe conditions
James Jopling
Shelter Scotland

"A lot of the living accommodation is a very poor standard. It's very cold in winter, in summer there's no proper ventilation and there's no bedding when they arrive - they've just got bare mattresses.

"It's just very poor, there's often no electric, no hot water and no shower facilities."

In the county of Angus alone, 4,000 migrant workers now live and work in the area.

James Jopling, head of campaigns at housing and homelessness charity Shelter Scotland, has called on local authorities to ensure workers have decent living conditions.

"We are hearing stories of people forced to live in horrific conditions because they have little or no choice," he said.

"They don't feel they can complain in some cases in case they get chucked out. In some cases people are risking their lives to live in unsafe conditions."

New housing

The charity has recently produced advice leaflets in Polish to let them know their rights.

The Scottish Executive spokesman said "The Scottish government is aware of the difficulty many people can face in accessing affordable housing and easing that burden is a top priority.

"We are currently assessing a broad range of housing issues across Scotland, engaging with tenants, community groups, house builders and private sector interests, to ensure we meet these needs.

"The spending review, later in the year, will consider all options in terms of the most effective means of providing new housing."

NFUS deputy chief executive James Withers paid tribute to the efforts of migrant workers and said it was in the interests of employers to treat their workforce well.

He added: "Labour shortage is an increasing problem on Scottish farms.

"As a result, we're increasingly finding farmers going the extra mile to attract workers. Some farmers will now provide English-speaking classes or tourist excursions for foreign workers at the weekends.

"The result is they are rewarded with the same workers returning year on year which gives them peace of mind that their produce will get picked and into the shops in time."




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Migrant workers describe their conditions of work



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