For the past year, FLEX has been collaborating with workers in the cleaning, catering and hospitality sectors to understand what issues people are experiencing at work and what change is needed. Peer researchers, the workers taking part in this project, are central to every aspect of the research from deciding what questions to ask in interviews and surveys to collecting data by interviewing their peers. We are also working together to identify recommendations for different actors – workers, employers, the UK government and others – and to form a plan of action for positive change.
To celebrate International Migrants Day on December 18th, this week FLEX will publish four new blogs written by our peer researchers, in which they share their experiences as migrant workers in the UK and their views on what is needed to ensure our workplaces are free from abuse and exploitation.
My name is Adela Naglova. I was born in Czech Republic and have been in UK since 2017. I am a graduated nurse and midwife and have worked in healthcare for almost 10 years.
I have been interested in working abroad for the past two years. In 2016, I went on mission as a nurse to a refugee camp in Greece. There I realised how important it is to speak English, so I ended up working in a hospital and then came to England. I had no big expectations and I knew the beginning wouldn’t be easy, but I was helped by my friends and people around me who I worked with, who had always been patient with my English level.
What kind of issues have you, or your colleagues, experienced at work in the UK?
In my current job, I didn’t get a contract for a month and I didn’t get paid. I had to keep reminding the office to make things right. I also had trouble getting my payslips. Unfortunately, this is a common problem for cleaning companies in general and those who speak little or no English are out of luck.
In your view, what do you think needs to change to improve working conditions for people in the cleaning sector?
I think that the government should be more in control of companies to get them to comply with all the rules concerning employees, especially foreigners in low paid positions.
If you could give advice to yourself when you first arrived in the UK, what would you say?
We all have our great value, and no one is more or less.
Find more information on FLEX’s participatory research here.
If you work in hospitality (e.g. catering, hotel housekeeping or as a kitchen porter) or the gig economy (e.g. as a courier or delivery driver) and would like to get involved in this project, please contact [email protected]
Participants in this blog series have chosen how they want to be named.