Recruiting and supporting migrant workers   Avondale Foods

Recruiting and supporting migrant workers Avondale Foods


I’m Mia McKeown and I am the Human
Resources Manager of Avondale Foods. We have 450 direct employees and during
the summer and Christmas which are our busy periods we employ about 250 extra
coming from recruitment agencies. Now 61 per cent of our workforce are all migrant workers. We have about 12 different nationalities: Polish, Slovaks, Czech, Latvian, Lithuanians, Portuguese and others. So what we have done to ensure that we are a fair employer is that obviously with all our advertisements and job vacancies these
are all on the notice boards and through Job Centre NI we adjusted our
interview questions to picture based interviews. It could be as simple as
identifying among the pictures what are fresh vegetables. All our supervisors and
managers are trained on equality awareness. We also have the human rights training and everybody attends this because it’s so important to understand
discrimination, ethical base code, to understand grievance procedure and what they need to do whenever they have some problems with the terms and conditions. The legal issues that you need to be
aware of is the right to work document that is so necessary because we need to
know and we need to be sure that the people that we are employing are legally
allowed to work and also it helps us know that they are not victims of
modern-day slavery because they have the possession of their right to work
documents. We have partnership with our local police community. We also are in
partnership with the Gang Licensing Abuse Authority. And any issues that we have concerns we make sure that they are notified immediately. The challenges in employing migrant
workers is the lack of English language so what we have done about this is
partnership with our local SRC, partnership with other migrant support
group because we do give English classes here NVQ level 2 and level 3
and we also have ILM level 2 and level 3. They can use their company time so we
would advocate about 2 to 4 hours every week for them to attend these classes.
And we also have a lot of our charity events, so we will have marathon
relay or mountain climbing and we do all that and again across the site together.
Also in supporting our migrant workers we have different committees in our
company. Our works committee is represented by different people in
different departments and there is a very good diverse representation of our
works committee: male/female and different culture. Our future challenge
is not being able to recruit as many migrant workers as we used to. So our
plans are to have open days for the University graduates and those in their
final years and undergraduate and we also have a partnership with Jobs NI
because we’re trying to get a lot of the job seekers. My top three tips for other
employers who are wanting to employ migrant workers are understand the
cultural differences, celebrate the cultural differences. Tip two is to value
their skills and contribution and lastly support their personal growth and
professional development.

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