Labour today unveiled proposals to crack down on companies who attempt to undercut British workers by taking on cheap labour from abroad.
In a speech in Norfolk, leader Ed Miliband warned that those bosses who exploited immigrants – paying them lower wages than their UK counterparts – could face jail under new laws.
“We are serving notice on employers who bring workers here under duress or on false terms and pay them significantly lower wages, with worse terms and conditions,” said Mr Miliband.
“This new criminal offence will provide protection to everyone. It will help ensure that when immigrants work here they do not face exploitation themselves and rogue employers are stopped from undercutting the terms and conditions of everyone else.”
Arguing the case for new legislation, Mr Miliband cited a recent example of 29 immigrants, who claimed their wages had been stolen.
The workforce also alleged they had been beaten, set upon by dogs and held in the back of a van for up to six days at a time.
Despite the catalogue of complaints, police felt unable to prosecute under current laws.
Mr Miliband accused the Tories and UKIP of “turning a blind eye” to the issues of exploitation and undercutting.
But the speech, made in the marginal seat of Great Yarmouth, was somewhat overshadowed by reports about Labour’s own strategy on immigration.
Documents obtained by the press suggested that those out canvassing for the party should attempt to “move the conversation on” if voters expressed concern about border controls.
Labour sources were quick to dismiss suggestions that they were attempting to bury the issue, arguing that excerpts of the document published in The Daily Telegraph were taken out of context.