Could TripAdvisor-style ratings save migrant workers from slavery?

A Mexican migrant paid a recruiter thousands of dollars for work in the U.S., only to endure slavery, time in jail and finally deportation. To make sure others did not fall prey to the same man, the migrant wrote a review on Contratados.org.

(Photo: taken from Contratados.org)
English 02/09/2015 21:45 Reuters Actualizada 13:09
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A Mexican migrant paid a recruiter thousands of dollars for work in the United States, only to endure slavery, time in jail and finally deportation.

To make sure others did not fall prey to the same man, the migrant wrote a review of the recruiter on Contratados.org, a site for migrants from Mexico working in the United States.

The site, which means "hired" in Spanish, is described by the founding labour rights group as a Yelp or TripAdvisor for migrant workers, many of whom pay large fees to recruitment agencies but are then trapped in abusive employment - exploited, unpaid and in debt.

"This man tricked me... I had to work without pay for 2 months," the Mexican worker wrote in an anonymous posting on the site.

"He promised me a tourist visa and finally he gave me a false visa stuck on my passport for which he charged me 35,000 pesos (US$2,000). At the border, I was detained and I was put in jail. I was in jail for 3 days and after that I was deported."

Rachel Micah-Jones of the Centro de los Derechos del Migrante (CDM), the Center for Migrant Rights, for workers in Mexico and the United States, which launched Contratados.org in September last year, said the site lets migrant workers rate their experience of recruiters or employers online, by voicemail or by text message.

Last year more than 130,000 Mexicans received temporary employment visas to work in the United States, and she said she hoped the site would help workers avoid being duped, exploited or charged illegal recruitment fees.

"They're leaving messages warning of recruiters that charge excessive fees, or fraudulent recruiters, bad housing conditions, poor conditions in general," Micah-Jones, CDM's founder and executive director, told activists and trade union organizers at a recent migrant labor conference in Indonesia.

Micah-Jones is one of many advocates worldwide trying to end recruitment fees, a practice around the world that often leads to bonded or forced labor.

An estimated 232 million people migrated abroad for work in 2013, according to the United Nations, which has noted growing concern over fraudulent recruitment practices.

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