Zimbabwean care workers are being tricked into coming to the UK by unscrupulous middlemen who withhold up to half their wages and force them to live in squalor.
The scam, which plays on the acute shortages of nursing and care staff across Britain’s hospitals and care homes, has echoes of the debt bondage schemes recently revealed to be impacting Indonesian farmers.
Zimbabwe is in economic crisis and thousands of trained care professionals are seeking employment abroad. However agencies – often run by Zimbabweans in the UK and unregulated – are exploiting them, a Telegraph investigation has found.
“When you are working for an agency [in the UK], they pay you 50 percent of your total salary,” said Jim Moyo*, who moved to the UK from Harare in November 2018 to work in a care home in Margate. “You are getting paid £14 per hour, but then these guys will pay you £7.”
He added that, once tax was deducted, he was left with just £4 per hour for “rent, food and all sorts of expenses”.
“[The agency] tells you: ‘I paid for your accommodation, flights, visa, [I’m] your sponsor’. It’s like a hideous loan,” said Mr Moyo.