Conservatives use 'cheap' migrant leafleters

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Indy Politics

Eastern European migrants allegedly earning less than the legal minimum wage are delivering Conservative Party leaflets in a key marginal constituency.

Eastern European migrants allegedly earning less than the legal minimum wage are delivering Conservative Party leaflets in a key marginal constituency.

Despite conducting a high-profile campaign calling for tough controls on immigration, the Tories are using a company employing low-paid foreigners to distribute campaign literature.

Staff delivering the leaflets in the prosperous Richmond Park constituency in south-west London claim they are earning £4 an hour - compared with the statutory minimum of £4.85.

Geoff Martin, a union organiser in south-west London, said the situation exposed the "rank hypocrisy" of the Conservative Party. "There they are, campaigning against immigration and the only way they can get election literature distributed is through an agency employing eastern Europeans, potentially earning less than the national minimum wage. The fact that they can't deliver their own literature, says a lot for the Conservative Party today. "

Sasha Srdanovic, a Yugoslav immigrant and distribution manager at London Letterbox, the company used by the Conservatives, confirmed that eastern Europeans had been employed.

Mr Srdanovic, who has been in Britain for 13 years, said they were not directly employed by the company and acted as sub-contractors. He denied they were paid less than the statutory minimum, and that they were paid per 1,000 leaflets delivered. He conceded that for some the fee may have worked out at £4 an hour.

He said that most of the eastern Europeans contracted to the company were Poles, and that all had work permits. Mr Srdanovic said London Letterbox had to engage the services of people who were available.

Asked why an immigrant was prepared to work for the Conservatives, given their policies, he said: "It's business. People have different political views. I don't think the Conservatives' views are that strong."

One of the houses to which the leaflets were delivered was that of Mark Williams who asked one of two delivery men how much he earned. The man, in his "mid to late 20s" said he earned "£4 an hour".

Mr Williams, a lawyer and a Labour supporter, said: "Many businesses and public sector employers in the UK, particularly in the south-east, face labour shortages. It is in the UK's interest for there to be properly-managed economic migration. Economic migrants who come here lawfully deserve the full protection of UK legislation and in particular laws on employment rights."

A spokesman for the Conservatives said it was common practice to use commercial delivery companies, particularly if there were many thousands of leaflets to deliver in a short period of time.

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