"(These) workers are an exploited and vulnerable group of people"
By Chris Creegan and Kieran Guilbert
LONDON, May 25 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Young British tourists heading to the Spanish island of Mallorca to work as promoters for bars and clubs are being abused and trapped in forced labour, Britain said on Friday, as it launched a nationwide operation to warn holidaymakers of the dangers.
Many Brits doing such unofficial seasonal jobs in Mallorca are forced to work long hours for little pay with no contract, housed in squalid flats and robbed of their passports, said a report by Britain's foreign ministry backed by its border force.
The Balearics - which include Mallorca - are among the most popular foreign holiday destinations for British holidaymakers in search of hot weather. Spanish police often have to deal with bad behaviour by drunken British and other foreign tourists.
Young British people get into this kind of work thinking it involves "a few hours where they get a few free drinks, a steady wage and still enjoy the party and go home with a tan and some money," the government's report said.
"This seems to be far from reality: (these) workers are an exploited and vulnerable group of people," the report said.
British women working as promoters on the island face sexual harassment and abuse, while many workers fall into debt and homelessness, and turn to crime to survive, the government said.
More than 80 percent of British prisoners on Mallorca are former bar and club promoters - convicted of crimes such as drug dealing and robbery, according to the government report.
Justine Currell of the anti-trafficking charity Unseen said modern-day slavery was more widespread than the public realised, and warned of the risks facing young people seeking work abroad.
"They could end up in a job they did not foresee, living in sub standard accommodation paying huge rents, being forced to commit crimes such as selling drugs or having their passport confiscated," Currell told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The government is carrying out a week-long operation at airports across Britain to warn young travellers about how to spot the signs of exploitation in Mallorca and report abuses.
"We want to ensure that those contemplating (this) work in Mallorca, many of whom are tourists tempted by the idea of an extended stay in the sunshine, do not find their summer turning into a nightmare," said immigration minister Caroline Nokes.
About 25 million people worldwide are estimated to be trapped in forced labour, according to the U.N. International Labour Organization (ILO) and rights group Walk Free Foundation.
(Writing By Kieran Guilbert, Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org)
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