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Grenadian nannies in UK speak about slave-like working conditions


by Linda Straker

  • Exploitation of nannies drawn to attention of Grenada’s High Commission in London
  • Grenada police advise illegally employed nannies allegation is subject of UK law enforcement
  • Families in Grenada unable to purchase airline ticket to get recruited women out of appalling situation

Police in Grenada have confirmed learning about the allegations of exploitation of Grenadian women who are apparently illegally employed as nannies in the United Kingdom (UK). They advised that such an allegation should become the subject of UK law enforcement because it is occurring there.

“We can only follow where such an investigation will lead for now,” said Assistant Commissioner of Police, Franklyn Redhead, who also confirmed that the allegation which surfaced on Facebook was also drawn to the attention of Grenada’s High Commission in London.

The High Commission explained that anyone seeking employment in the UK should first comply with the required laws of the UK. Among other requirements, the law mandates that an employer acquires the relevant work permit from the relevant authorities before the arrival of the employee.

According to the Work in the UK website, before applying for a UK work permit, the applicant, among other things, must first receive a confirmed offer of employment from a licenced UK employer (the sponsoring employer), and be in possession of a Certificate of Sponsorship issued by the sponsoring employer. “The work permit application process is led by the employer who is responsible for issuing you (the applicant) with a Certificate of Sponsorship.”

Persons between 18 and 30 years old can apply for a Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa without sponsorship, which allows them to live and work in the UK for up to 2 years.

The exploitation of Grenadian nannies became the subject of discussion last weekend, after one of the ladies was thrown out of the house where she was taking care of three children for a Nigerian family, and she spoke out about the working and living conditions.

Maria King, as she is known on Facebook, explained that the less-than-acceptable living and working conditions include a 13-hour shift beginning at 7 am and ending at 8 pm, and her inability to have a shower on her designated day off.

Maria King work schedule

King, along with other Grenadian women, said they were recruited with the help of recruitment agents in Grenada. Dozens of young ladies who left for a better life are discovering that the promised life of working as a nanny in the United Kingdom for between £400 and £500 a week, has turned into a nightmare where they are receiving between £300 and £600 per month.

“It’s terrible, it’s horrible. It’s appalling. That is not what I was told. I did not sign up for that but it has become my sad and embarrassing reality,” said one of the young ladies. “We are vulnerable and were looking for a better life, but what we have is worse than what we left Grenada. We are not improving our life, we are seeing more trouble.” She had gone to the recruiting agent after seeing a notice on Facebook. The current occupation of the recruiting agent in Grenada falls under law enforcement.

To close the deal, the recruiting agent demanded upfront payment of between EC$400 and EC$600, and all applicants had to submit two references and a police record. The cost of the trip was the responsibility of the person seeking the job.

“We don’t know what the EC$400 is for because we do not receive a work permit,” said one of the young ladies who claimed she discovered the need for a work permit after her arrival in the UK.

The ladies were met at the airport by a representative of the UK employment/recruiting agency and taken to the house of the homeowner where they are introduced to the family and children. Most of them reported that their passports are then taken away by the homeowners who are usually a husband and wife.

Most of the homeowners are Nigerian families.

It is there that the nannies learn that they are illegally employed and running to the police will just lead to being thrown into prison because they are violating immigration laws.

“When that was explained to me, I just had to accept the struggle because I don’t know anyone. Life is suddenly changed and from there, things will just go downhill. I only saw these things happen in African movies and I thought it was just acting, but now I realise it is real, it’s very real,” said King.

Relaying her story via a telephone interview, she said, “Then for my first month’s salary, the recruiting agency took almost all, saying it’s a fee for getting me employed and it happened the second month. I [am] getting little money and they [are] taking more than half. It’s a hard life,” she said.

All the ladies said that during the recruitment and interview stage, the Grenadian agent told them that the salary will be on par with the what is set by the UK Government which is between £400 and £700 for live-in nannies per week, but they receive the same monthly.

Some families in Grenada are aware of the appalling conditions but are unable to purchase an airline ticket to get them out of the situation.

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