Queues of immigrant workers outside employment agencies
have grown in recently. That's because foreign workers
are stepping in to fill gaps in the labour market especially
people from the Indian holiday destination of Goa. Bhavani
Vadde spoke to three of them who have swapped more tropical
climes for Swindon.
A TWIST in colonial
history has meant that the Goan community in Swindon has
burgeoned in the last three or four years.
Unlike the rest
of India, Goa was a Portuguese colony for 500 years and
remained so until 1961 even though the rest of the
country gained independence from British rule in 1947.
Goans still have
a right to Portuguese nationality which enables them to
live and work anywhere in the European Union.
And there are
a number of reasons why they choose to come to Britain
instead of Portugal and Swindon in particular.
younger generation of Goans can't speak Portuguese but
are fluent in English. That's because Goan schools switched
to teaching English as a second language instead of Portuguese
after the state was liberated.
agencies in the town say Goans are willing to undertake
low skilled and often lower paid work that many local
people are unwilling to do.
Four years ago
there were around 50 people from India's richest state
in the town and that has now grown to around 1,000. They
work directly and through agencies for a variety if companies
in and around Swindon including Honda, WH Smith, Swindon
Distribution Centre, Faccenda in Sutton Benger and Uniq
Prepared Foods in Devizes, as well as in banks and as
43, president of the Goan Association, came to Swindon
four years ago after initially working in London. He now
works for Swindon Pressings.
He said: "When
people heard there were plenty of job opportunities, the
Goan population here started to grow.
come straight from India then you have to go somewhere
where you know somebody so you feel safe.
have also been joined by their families so that is another
reason why it has grown.
"But I think
the majority will go back to Goa."
Mr Souza lives
with his wife Cimilda, 35, and his five year-old twins
Spirlea and Shannon who attend Drove Primary School.
57, the association's secretary, also works for Swindon
He said: "I
am employed by an agency so I am not on a fixed contract.
There is once or twice a year when there is no work and
I get a break.
go anywhere in Europe and there are people in France and
other countries but they do jobs where they don't need
here is better paid than in Portugal and in India."
The association's treasurer Jose Fernandes, 34, is Mr
Souza's cousin. He was an accounts auditor but now takes
on work as a packer in a warehouse.
He said: "When
I first came, I tried getting a position in accounts but
I didn't have much luck.
"I am planning
to do a college course and after that I might find a position
The Goan Association
provides a support for newcomers and organises social
events such as dances and sports activities.
language of Goa is konkani and once a month a konkani
mass is held at the Holy Rood Church and 300 people attend
from the Race equality Council, said: "This is not
a new situation in respect to migration patterns. Wherever
there are labour shortages then immigrants from other
parts of the world have always plugged the gap.
there are strict quotas for the number of people who can
come here on work permits. It is much more regulated than
it used to be unless it is for a category where we have
a shortage such as nurses, doctors or teachers.
Goan population in Swindon are EU citizens exercising
their right to free movement.
a shortage of labour in Swindon and they are coming to
do low skilled and low paid jobs."
A number of employment
agencies based in Commercial Road recruit overseas workers.
often provide transport for the workers, which is why
they are seen daily queuing outside the premises.
director of Storm Recruitment, said that his company provides
workers for Faccenda, a company supplying poultry to major
And Storm has
also recently won a three-year contract to supply around
100 workers a day to pack sandwiches at Uniq Prepared
Foods in Devizes.
He said: "These
companies are doing well so we are doing well. Word spreads
and often overseas workers will do work the young Europeans
do with culture. If you ask an 18-year-old European to
stand at a line all day they wouldn't do it.
"It is boring
repetitive work but the Goans have a different work ethic,
they will do this sort of work."
As well as Goans,
the agency also employs Malaysian, Italians, Spanish and
Brazilians who all have the right documents or the right
to work here.
training and development manage,r said: "The reason
why there are queues outside is because Swindon is a booming
town and we have some quite big clients.
"We do not
ask people where they are from, as long as they are entitled
to work here and have the right skills and experience
to fit the work."