REFUGEES, asylum seekers and those that the Home Office are seeking to deport are being set to work in the detention centres, and paid just £1 an hour! The detainees have got together to take a legal challenge out against the Home Office against what they rightly say is slave labour. Jobs include cleaning toilets or working in kitchens.
Toufique Hossain from Duncan Lewis solicitors, who is bringing the legal action, said: ‘For several years, the Home Office has exploited immigrants that the government has detained. ‘Cleaner, barber, kitchen assistant, interpreter, librarian … these are just a few of the jobs, essential to the day-to-day running of detention centres, which are carried out by detainees. ‘Indefensibly, the Home Office has set a maximum pay cap for such work at £1 per hour.
‘After we threatened legal action, the Home Office finally reviewed this policy at ministerial level, but callously chose to maintain the cap. ‘We now seek judicial scrutiny of this immoral and obscene practice.’ Detention centres, like prisons, are exempt from minimum wage legislation. The rate of pay has remained £1 an hour since 2008.
The Home Office ministers own officials recommended a pay rise to £1.15 an hour, but even this rise of a few pence was too much for the Home Office who overruled the officials’ suggestion. According to the legal documents, the Home Office’s review sought the views of detainees and centre managers on the issue.
One centre manager said: ‘When it comes to asking a detainee to put his hand down a toilet to clean or asked to clean the body fat build up in the showers for £1 an hour, then we are often met with the response that you can stuff your job, which is why we have a high turnover for shower cleaners and room cleaners.’
In a document known as a detention services order, Home Office officials said: ‘Whilst £1 per hour seems high, I am reluctantly recommending that we accept this as the basic pay rate.’ The official added that reducing the rate to the preferred level of 75p would be ‘too risky’. ‘We would be heavily criticised by the likes of NGOs, IMBs (independent monitoring boards) and HMIP (the prisons inspectorate),’ they said.