The Unheard Workforce

The Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS) is launching its latest report: “The Unheard Workforce: Experiences of Latin American migrant women in cleaning, hospitality and domestic work” 

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On the 17th July 2019, LAWRS launched the research “The Unheard Workforce: Experiences of Latin American migrant women in cleaning, hospitality and domestic work”. Funded by Trust for London

The research draws on 326 cases of women supported at the Employment Rights Advice Service of the organisation. It presents an array of deeply concerning labour rights violations experienced by Latin American migrant women employed in three key feminised sectors of London’s manual labour: cleaning, hospitality, and domestic work.

Among the key results arising from these cases, we found that:

  • Over half of the workers faced breaches to their contracts (62%). Unlawful deduction of wages was the most common type of abuse (151 cases, 46%).
  • 1 in 5 (20%) experienced illegal underpayment of the National Minimum Wage.
  • 17% were unlawfully denied the annual leave they were entitled to, and 16% were not paid accrued in lieu annual leave once they left the company.
  • Health and safety issues were present in 25% of the cases – predominantly injury due to the nature of the work (33%), limited or no protective equipment (17%), and lack of training (12%).
  • Over two in five (41%) of women in the sample have experienced discrimination, harassment or unreasonable treatment.
  • 66% experienced bullying or unreasonable treatment as regular occurrences.
  • A large proportion endured verbal and/or faced physical abuse, 37% and 11% respectively.
  • 16% of the women endured a total of 13 different types of sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace.
  • Abuse on the grounds of maternity was experienced by 9% of women. This includes failure to pay for hours spent at prenatal appointments and denial of risk assessments during pregnancy.
  • 11 cases of potential trafficking for labour exploitation were identified: 7 were cleaners or hospitality workers and 4 were domestic workers.

“We are not machines or numbers. We are human beings who want to work and to be treated with dignity and respect. We want nothing more and nothing less.”

Watch the full short documentary below:

“Undocumented Latin American migrant woman’s experiences of labour abuse in London”

This documentary was made with the support of Media Trust by the filmmaker Andrew Contreras

LAWRS Latin American Women's Rights Service Protesting Banners

LAWRS 35th Anniversary report is out!

35 year ago, we started our work in a time where domestic violence was only physical abuse and we increased our services accordingly to the development of policies and legislation through the years. We are proud to follow the steps of amazing Latin American women who came before us and we hope to do our part for the ones to come. As a specialist service, we will continue providing survival, security, safety, and well-being and also advocating and campaigning for human rights and social justice for migrant women and migrant women workers in the UK.

During the last year 2017-2018, our main achievements were:

  • 1,890 hours of comprehensive wellbeing support offered
  • 1,691 advice and information sessions
  • 339 survivors of violence supported to find safety
  • 285 school students better able to lead healthy relationships
  • 266 women joined in our integration programme
  • 515 women supported in Southwark
  • 124 women supported in Haringey
  • 93% improved their knowledge about rights
  • 85% improved their wellbeing
  • 40% of our drop-in service users accessed more than 1 service in a single visit
  • 70% found LAWRS through word of mouth
  • Evidenced-based campaigning work to tackle violence against women and girls, labour exploitation and reduce the impact of Brexit

Read more here: LAWRS 35th Anniversary Annual Report