Unite (Transport & General Workers Union, in old money) are conducting a campaign to highlight conditions of migrant workers (as reported on BBC today), in this instance those who have the luck to work at Thanet Earth.
The suggestion by Unite, made in a recent press release, is that migrant labour is being exploited, I would point out, that such conditions are not exclusive to migrant labour unless they are also suggesting racial discrimination.
Assuming Unite's points are valid it, it leaves a bad taste, particularly given all the implied environmental benefits, we have previously heard in connection with Thanet Earth.
Thanet Earth is a multi-million pound project, and yet much of the staff are paid minimum wage, which may be also subject to deductions (such as transport to the remote worksite), and employed on a temporary basis, allowing termination at a moments notice.
Surely it is not beyond Thanet Earth, to offer fixed term or even permanent contracts to a majority of workers, rather than pay a premium to agencies to profit from hard working "temps".
A couple of points to make, one I used to be a member of the T & G ( a long time ago)and also I happen to have some knowledge of working as a "temp" at Thanet Earth and have heard nothing in the reports coming from Unite which I'd discount as being too fanciful.
Still employers have to make profits, however I have to say, Labour had 12 years in office, in which temporary employment blossomed, and exploitation of migrants not unheard, it is to Labours shame, that they chose, to allow industry to ruthlessly exploit cheap labour during their recent time in office.
Labours much hyped minimum wage, isn't worth a toss, since casual employment, agency work, importing cheap labour, falling wages has in the last few years become norm, for many of us, and Labour know it.
Coming back to the main topic I attended a meeting recently, not because I hold to some radical agenda but because I was curious to see whether my own impression of Thanet Earth was objective. The gathering organised by Unite detailed evidence and set out to progress help to those working at Thanet Earth.
As a side issue have to say it was no surprise that Local Labour despite all their rhetoric about social issues, didn't send a representative to the meeting. Just me, Unite and some workers and "activists".
Thanet Earth understandably see things differently to Unite and the BBC have the following comment "Thanet Earth Marketing, which employs several hundred workers in peak season, says it carried out its own investigation when Unite first made the allegations in March 2010, which it says was concluded satisfactorily without any action.
Perhaps Thanet Earth have reason to be satisfied, still having worked there myself, I might suggest that Fresca Managing Director could contact me for another insight and I would be pleased to discuss concerns I had, whilst briefly working at the plant after it first opened.
For me, I didn't feel I suited to Thanet Earth and was fortunate to have the ability to walk away without needing to make an issue, still some are not so lucky such as those in a new country with differing customs, laws and language.
Unite have opened a reasonable debate and done what unions should do, which is to support working people, myself despite my frequent rants and raves, I have to say that I'm not an "activist" sort of person more a commentator so come on Thanet Earth sometimes even business has to take into account social consequences of the operating practices and in my view your "own investigation" may not quite hit the spot.
Published and promoted by L. Latham on behalf of on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, Flat 1, 2 Prospect Road, Broadstairs, Kent. CT10 1LD