Feedback from an ex-Tier2 migrant

We had some interesting feedback from an ex-Tier2 migrant today which we have quoted verbatim below; and have also acted upon in moderating a couple of posts.

We have also added a few comments on the information divulged in this post as it is quite significant.

Here is the post

Hi, I had hitherto been following your blog with interest for its seemingly genuine concerns. However, as an ex Tier 2 migrant, I find your comparison of Tier 2 migrants to slaves and dogs not only offensive to people in this visa category but also to slaves and dogs.

In your own narrow sample maybe some of what you have written down is true – I don’t know about that, but your (patently wrong) sweeping generalisation is not helping your credibility in my view; and I can speak from my own experience and the experience of my friends and ex-colleagues (from different projects, companies, cities) that Tier 2 migrants’ life is infinitely much better than say someone who has been trafficked and forced into illegal ways of working or someone whose passport has been confiscated and has no money or document to travel.

I think that is mainly because the majority of Tier 2 migrants CHOOSE to come here for varied reasons; to make money, to travel to beautiful places and broaden their worldview, to improve their professional experience, to meet different people, to even watch musicals and be part of live audience in their beloved TV Shows. You make much of the fact that Tier 2 migrant is paid substantially less than UK counterpart – I think this is also true of the fact that UK female workers are paid substantially less than their male counterparts.

Where is your outrage regarding that? After all, we can reasonably assume that Tier 2 migrant is here only for a short amount of time (unlike UK female employees) and apart from taxes and modest living expenses (including entertainment costs etc), most of the remainder of their salary is sent back home where their savings go a long way towards ensuring they have a very very decent standard of life in their home country when they return. (Of course, some migrants do like to spend all their money in the UK). Its similar to how an UK employee might be willing to move for a reduced salary to Australia or the US because their earnings make sense when they live there (for instance, if they do want to buy it, a Macbook Pro laptop costs much lesser in the US in the UK so they needn’t earn as much more).

I am sure things will be nicer all around when every worker regardless of race, gender, sexuality and all those things are equally treated and paid the same, but you might want to reconsider about the tragic picture you paint of the working and living conditions of Tier 2 migrants because it trivialises the suffering of illegal, trafficked and abused people who have truly and really suffered.

Let’s look at a few of the comments that have been made in this post and address a few of the concerns.

I find your comparison of Tier 2 migrants to slaves and dogs not only offensive to people in this visa category but also to slaves and dogs.

Our observation of the way that Tier 2 migrants have been treated is that they are paid substantially less than UK workers and that Corporations and Government Departments even cite this as a reason for “using them” – note they very rarely refer to them as “employed” but rather are referred to as a commodity.

Some of the Tier 2 migrants we worked with explained the selection criteria they underwent in India before coming to the UK.  This they described as quite dispassionate – with over 1000 people for each role, they basically had to commit to forego any family commitments with one person we worked with not seeing his newborn child until it was over 6 months old because he was needed at work.

Whilst this is also true of our armed forces, oil rig workers etc, it is practically unheard of amongst IT workers and office workers in the UK.

The comparison to dogs was one that the reader made and not one that was intended.  It was a comment on the way people have been treated by the Scottish Government and its agents, and in fact they treated UK workers with a similar disdain – hence the ongoing tribunal actions from contract and permanent staff.

Tier 2 migrants’ life is infinitely much better than say someone who has been trafficked and forced into illegal ways of working or someone whose passport has been confiscated and has no money or document to travel

At no point have we compared the lives of Tier 2 workers with the life of illegally trafficked victims. We are intrigued that the reader draws this parallel in order to reassure themselves that life as a Tier 2 migrant could be worse.

It is also worth noting that Government and international agencies invest a lot of time and money to stop people trafficking and it is treated seriously and the perpetrators of such crimes are treated severely when they are caught.

The Government, by contrast does little if anything to ensure that Tier 2 migrants are treated correctly and it is our own experience that when people complained to Scottish Government  about Tier 2 migrants not being paid for nearly 3 months, or being forced to work extremely long hours with no overtime payments we and the migrants were told by both Scottish Government and regulatory agencies that they fell through all the loopholes and were not protected.

As such, trafficked people are protected and actively sought out by Government departments whereas it is our experience that Tier 2 migrants have no protection at all.

You make much of the fact that Tier 2 migrant is paid substantially less than UK counterpart – I think this is also true of the fact that UK female workers are paid substantially less than their male counterparts.

We note that you agree that Tier 2 migrants are paid substantially less than their UK counterparts. With regard to the equality of female workers, the Scottish Government has a highly publicised gender equality program and appears to actively seek to ensure gender equality.

By contrast, they do not to our knowledge have any such program for migrant workers and indeed, are fully aware of the equality gap on their own projects when it comes to the equality of migrant workers.

Where is your outrage regarding that? After all, we can reasonably assume that Tier 2 migrant is here only for a short amount of time (unlike UK female employees) and apart from taxes and modest living expenses (including entertainment costs etc), most of the remainder of their salary is sent back home where their savings go a long way towards ensuring they have a very very decent standard of life in their home country when they return

It is our observation that a large number of Tier 2 migrants exercise the option to remain in the UK so would disagree that they are here for a short amount of time.  The reader’s use of the word “here” instead of “there” implies that they too have exercised their right to remain in the UK and so at this point would be regarded by ourselves as a UK Citizen.  On the Scottish Government project, one former Tier 2 migrant informed us that he was being let go because with a UK cost of living he himself was now being replaced with a Tier 2 migrant who was cheaper – both ironic and alarming.

Just because a migrant may only be here for a short time, does not make it right to discriminate against them.  Interestingly, it is very common for Corporations to cycle migrant workers so that as one leaves another one joins.  For this reason it is even more important to ensure that all Migrant workers have their equality with resident workers protected and benefit from the same legal protection as set down in employment and equality law.

It is interesting that Tier 2 migrants send most of their money back to their home country.  This is obviously good for them, but it is not good for the UK economy if all the money people are paid is sent out of the country.

UK employee might be willing to move for a reduced salary to Australia or the US because their earnings make sense when they live there (for instance, if they do want to buy it, a Macbook Pro laptop costs much lesser in the US in the UK so they needn’t earn as much more).

This argument does not really make much sense to us.  Yes, the cost of living in the USA and Australia is less than the cost of living in the UK and so salaries are less and equally product costs are less.

This is not true of people moving to the UK from India.  The cost of living is far greater and so they should expect a salary that is consistent with UK workers doing the same work with the same method of engagement.

Just as any UK worker would expect to be paid the going rate in the USA and Australia; so should a Tier 2 migrant expect to be paid the going rate if they work in the UK.

Not only does this ensure equality amongst the workforce, it also ensures that the UK workforce is not destabilised with cheap labour and illegal working practises.

Our argument stands that the UK Government should take steps to ensure the equality of Tier 2 migrants in the UK.  This will protect not only them, but also protect the resident workforce who will no longer have their livelihoods destabilised by cheap labour that is cheap only because they are of a different nationality and have had their nationality used against them as a vehicle to ensure that they are cheaper than the resident workforce.

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