Forigen workers at a Burton-on-Trent warehouse [in the UK] have been banned from speaking their own language.
The new policy, introduced at the Waterstone’s Distribution Centre in Centrum 100, was introduced as another row threatened to embroil the firm over pay deals which could affect up to 120 workers. The language ban was blasted by Unite union as ‘ridiculous’, but the logistics firm backed its decision and said it only applied during working hours, and that foreign employees were allowed to speak in their native tongue during break times.
A spokesman for logistics firm Unipart, which operates the warehouse for the book dealer, said: “It’s important for good clear communication among employees that our stringent health and safety standards are maintained and that all employees speak a common language. As such Unipart requires all employees to communicate in English during working hours in the workplace. This does not apply to employees during meal and rest breaks. This creates a better team environment and makes sure that employees do not feel isolated or marginalised from other employee groups.”
As a result of the policy the foreign workforce, which mainly consists of Poles and Latvians, have drawn up a petition to hand to Unipart bosses, claiming discrimination and breaches of their human rights.
Rick Coyle, a spokesman for Unite union, said: “It is ridiculous to employ lots of people from other countries whilst insisting they must speak among themselves only in English. Unipart has a lot to learn about human nature and respect. Unite supports the workers’ petition and a full-blown union recognition campaign at the Centrum 100 warehouse is well under way.”
I don't see the issue. If you want to live and work in the UK, you should expect to have to speak the language, especially when working, surely? The company has clearly stated this is only during working hours. Breaks and rest periods are not included.