Worry of migrant turkey workers

The spectre of hundreds of former Bernard Matthews migrant workers trying to survive without incomes was called a “huge worry”.

The spectre of hundreds of former Bernard Matthews migrant workers trying to survive without incomes was called a “huge worry”.

With an annual February downturn in factory production across all businesses, Thetford-based Meta, a support service for migrant workers, run by Keystone, said there were few jobs in region and its loans and financial services for migrants were at breaking point.

Joao Noronha, managing editor of a Portuguese newspaper, said they were very worried, adding: “We can help one worker, but 100 is very difficult.”

With the majority of the Matthews workforce who face job cuts coming from Portugal, that country's consulate general yesterday visited Yarmouth, where many live, to listen to his fellow countrymen's concerns.

Dr Miguel Pires is in talks with the company to ensure workers' rights are observed, and try and negotiate a solution to the job losses.

Many complained to him that they were enticed to England by Matthews's agents in Portugal with job offers but now found themselves deserted by the company, with bills to pay, no income, and no way home.

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Richard Howitt, Labour MEP for Norfolk and Suffolk, called for the European Union to pay compensation to migrant workers who lost their jobs as had happened with similar bird flu outbreaks in Italy and Spain.

Vitos Dos Santos, a 34-year-old Portuguese worker who lost his job after two years and has a wife and three-month old baby to support, said he did not know how he was going to pay his bills if the government did not help.

And he said he was shocked to discover from friends back home that workers were still being recruited in Portugal up to two weeks ago.

He said that while the staff were laid off at the Great Witchingham plant, workers at the Holton factory were working overtime to keep up with demand, adding: “I don't understand it.”

He, along with hundreds of others, has signed up at the job centre but, he said, he held out little hope of finding anything soon.

David Bullen from the government funded Next Step, which provides training for migrant workers, said poor English was the main reason for workers' inability to get jobs.