Concerns over treatment of foreigners

Fresh concerns about the mistreatment and exploitation of foreign workers in food processing factories emerged today after a 15-month inquiry into working conditions in Britain's meat industry.

Fresh concerns about the mistreatment and exploitation of foreign workers in food processing factories emerged today after a 15-month inquiry into working conditions in Britain's meat industry.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission said it has found “widespread evidence” of migrant workers suffering physical and verbal abuse and poor protection from health and safety hazards while they work on the production line.

The commission also raised concerns about the treatment of pregnant women, with claims that female migrants were forced to continue with heavy lifting work “under the threat of losing their job” - and that some had suffered miscarriages as a result.

But Norfolk food giant Bernard Matthews Farms was praised by the commission as an example to the rest of the food industry of how to treat all workers with respect.


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“One firm that was frequently mentioned as an employer of choice for agency workers was Bernard Matthews,” according to the commission's report, published on Saturday.

“This was because of the respect for, and lack of differentiation between, agency staff and directly employed workers, and the steps taken to promote good relations between different nationalities.”

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On Friday, Jeff Halliwell, UK managing director of Bernard Matthews, said the firm was pleased to have been highlighted for treating staff fairly.

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