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Saturday, 12 October 2013

Torn from the newspaper headlines – food slaves

‘Beatings and 17-hour days’: the life of Britain’s food slaves
 – Sunday Times, 6 October 2013.

An investigation by the ST has discovered that workers employed in food factories and farms that supply some of UK’s biggest supermarkets are working in excess of 17hrs per day for little or no pay. Virtual slaves. The SOCA (now the NCA) reported 83 potential trafficking victims forced to work in the food-processing industry in Britain last year, up from 38 in 2011.

The real numbers are likely to be much higher, This isn’t only a UK problem, however. There are migrants throughout Europe suffering the same fate. I am not singling out Spain when I include this subject in my book, Blood of the Dragon Trees, just highlighting the issue:

These are legal tomatoes (suggested serving)

Jalbala’s stomach growled. After days of poor food and backbreaking work, he felt drained, weak, weary, and he ached all over. He was fit and strong, but the others weren’t, so he had no idea how the women coped.

He worked in the fields, a huge plastic collecting basket strapped to his back. As he’d been shown, he sliced off melons and slung them over his shoulder to land in the basket. After a while, their combined weight started to tell, threatening to rip his shoulders off. The field was filled with his fellow illegals, women and men. Nadira, the woman he’d pulled out of the water, was over on his right, Jope on his left. They both bowed with a will, determined to work towards their freedom.

A wave of depression swamped Jalbala as he realized they were being duped. They’d never get legitimate papers. Food and so-called lodging would be deducted from their miniscule wages; complications would arise over the required forms. They’d be made to work till they dropped, and then Black Beard or one of his men would come along with a baseball bat to encourage them to work some more.

Already, one of their tent walked with a serious limp, thanks to ‘encouragement’ from a guard. Jalbala decided he could not wait much longer. He’d noticed a couple of guards watching him, as if making sure he pulled his weight. The slightest excuse, they’d give him a good hiding, and it might be so harsh he wouldn’t recover fully from it. Commonsense and honest fear told him he couldn’t delay more than a week. He must get the evidence soon.

- Blood of the Dragon Trees, by Nik Morton (Crooked Cat Publishing), p89 - -

"When Laura Reid, a linguist, comes to work for the Chavez family in Tenerife, she cannot imagine the terrifying twists and turns her life will take. Nik Morton's novel quickly pulls the reader into an underworld where people trafficking and the smuggling of body parts of endangered species are among the crimes committed by the well drawn characters on this seemingly peaceful and beautiful island. Lots of pace, a really good yarn and a skilfully painted picture of Tenerife made it an excellent read. Highly recommended. "
- 4-star review on, 8 October




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