Private firms use immigration detainees as cheap labor in UK

Private firms use immigration detainees as cheap labor in UK

Sat Aug 23, 2014 4:4AM GMT

Private firms in the United Kingdom have been criticized for saving millions of pounds by using immigration detainees as cheap labor at detention centers.

According to Home Office figures, detainees in centers run by Serco, G4S, and such contractors worked nearly 45,000 hours in return for a total of nearly 45,500 in pay, for the month of May this year.

According to Phil Miller, who is a researcher at Corporate Watch, the companies are “saving millions of pounds by exploiting their captive migrant workforce on a grand scale.”

“Our research has shown that the detention centers would grind to a halt without the amount of essential work done by detainees on a daily basis – cooking and cleaning,” Miller added.

Corporate Watch also said that the private firms could have saved more than £2.8 million.

Detainees have complained that they are not allowed to work in the “outside world,” but they are given jobs inside detention centers for about £1 an hour.

The figures are related to seven centers including, the Yarl’s Wood and Colnbrook detention centres, which are operated by Serco; the Brook House and Tinsley House, run by G4S; Harmondsworth and Dungavel, managed by American firm GEO; and Campsfield, which is run by Mitie.

Meanwhile, recent figures from G4S in the UK and Ireland show that the company made £122m in pre-tax profit in 2013, while Serco made £106m during the same time period. Mitie’s also made £127.5m in the 12 months to June 2014, while GEO’s US-based parent, GEO Group Inc, reported £184m in pre-tax profit.

Secro, however, says that the work is voluntary and has denied that it used residents to “conduct work in place of officers or staff at any of the IRCs” that they manage.

The Home Office has also rejected the criticism.

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