Pioneer of ethical overseas labour recruitment calls for stricter legislation and ‘rogue traders’ to be put out of business
Businesses, especially in the manufacturing and industrial sectors, which have faced drastic skills shortages and an ever-diminishing pool of available labour, have to a great extent been saved by the skilled labour available from other EU countries including Poland. However, according to specialist international recruitment consultants Omega Resource Group, a minority of UK and foreign- based recruitment agencies are at best sweat shops and at worst little more than promulgators of slavery.
According to James Strickland, Group Director of Omega Resource Group, with offices in the UK and Poland, most businesses recruit overseas labour in response to the lack of applicants locally or based upon a specific skills base which is needed, that cannot be found within the existing UK labour pool. Boasting reliability, hard work ethic, willingness to work and flexibility it is easy to see why they are such an attractive option to UK organisations.
“If reputable employers and recruitment consultants engage in a professional process, the myth of cheap labour from abroad can be dispelled. But only if the Gangmaster Licensing Authority hits offending companies very hard – and by that I mean putting them out of business. We vet client companies along with candidates and employ welfare officers from the country of origin to ensure work, pay and ethical standards are adhered to throughout the period of an employee’s contract,” adds Strickland.
“To guard against abuse of candidates, job placements need to be sourced for existing vacancies and we back any legislation that tightens up the recruitment industry and ensures that migrant workers are regarded as a valuable asset, together with appropriate welfare packages put in place.”
“The issue of migrant labour needs to urgently be addressed and this is increasingly important with the recent accession countries such as Romania and Bulgaria which joined the EU in January 2007. We are keen for restrictions to be put in place as control and candidate welfare is top of the priority list.”
Strickland’s call for tightening up on enforcement of existing legislation, echoes Omega’s position since the outset of their operations almost two years ago, where the company “took the decision to either enter the market with all safeguards or not develop the programme at all.”
Since then Omega has gained contracts with many blue chip engineering and industrial businesses, flies clients to countries of origin to assessment centres,in addition to insisting on fully comprehensive induction programmes and parity of pay with existing workforces.
Omega which is accredited to ISO 9001:2000, has REC audited status and was one of the first recruitment firms to be awarded a Gang Master License.
These accreditations and audits are extremely important to the business and are taken very seriously, equally regarding our overseas division we supply HMO regulated housing. Commenting on a recent BBC exposé of ‘Bonded Labour’ and alleged contravention of the rights of migrant workers Strickland said: “Regarding the BBC programme it was very much emphasised on minimum wage,
quality of accommodation and deductions from hourly rates. Apart from the fact that it seemed candidates had been duped into a supply chain of hiring businesses, seemingly fraudulent paperwork and a catalogue of what can only be described as unethical practices. The GLA must stamp this out and we will make representations to Government and the recruitment industry’s own body REC to ensure that any companies flouting regulations are kept out of the recruitment business.”
“Whilst it is unrealistic to expect Britain to continue this ‘open door’ policy towards immigrant labour,” explains Strickland, “potential employers need to recruit intelligently from the pool of skilled labour which is available from overseas and which the UK is currently lacking.
“It would be foolhardy to close the door completely on the recruitment of overseas labour since potentially UK businesses could be forced to move their whole operations abroad if insufficient labour is available within the traditional catchment areas for hiring staff.”
Omega Resource Group is an ISO registered recruitment business supplying recruitment solutions nationwide via a network of UK offices and an overseas office in Warsaw, Poland. Omega has launched a nationwide information roadshow in association with the British Polish Chamber of Commerce addressing recruitment within various industry sectors including food and beverage production,packaging and processing industries. For further
information please visit
Voted ‘Best UK Regional Recruitment Company 2003’for
its award winning services provided to both candidates
and clients;Omega truly is one of the UK’s leading recruitment companies specialising in Technical and Engineering.