Migrant workers: Employer defends Barking casual roadside labour system

Labourers outside the Wickes store in Barking, looking for non-contract jobs by the roadside

Labourers outside the Wickes store in Barking, looking for non-contract jobs by the roadside - Credit: Archant

Not everyone hanging around on the corner is after a job – some are prospective employers.

A 30-year-old man from Romania, who said his name was Chris, said the best way of finding a good worker was to spend some time weighing up the potential workforce with his own eyes.

A self-employed building contractor, he comes down to pick up some causal workers whenever he has a job that needs doing quickly.

“I try to look at everyone’s faces,” he explained. “You can tell if they’re serious or not.

“If you’re serious and really want work, it’s not hard to get a job here. I’ll pay between £60 and £80 depending on what the job is.


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“It’s a good system – it helps them out and it helps me out.

“It’s just people here to work – it’s not dangerous.”

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Although some people come down in cars and vans to pick up labourers, prompting a flurry of activity, Chris insists it’s much easier for him to stay silent.

“I try to hide my interest or everyone comes over to you,” he added. “I prefer to stay here where I can see everyone.”

Although unique to the borough, it’s not unique to London.

When Chris can’t get work the Beckton-based builder uses a similar system in Seven Sisters.

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