Legal vs. Ethical – The Byron Burger Case

Us Brits may love a good burger and we are, undoubtedly, a nation that prides itself on the production of British beef. Instead of worrying about the meat that goes into the food- have we ever stopped to think about the person who made it or served it to us? The popular fast food chain Byron has become embroiled in an immigration row that comes just over a month after the UK voted to leave the European Union. The chain was involved in its very own immigration sting, luring 35 of its migrant workers into the hands of the UK Border Agency. Since, it has come to light that Byron will not be facing any legal action as they were in fact shown falsified documentation by its staff, the majority of those in question being Brazilian nationals, as well as a small number of Albanians and Egyptians.

Assuming Byron were completely unaware that the documents that they had been shown were falsified, and that their staff did not have the right to work in the UK, the case complicates itself even further. However, upon receiving this news from the Home Office, did Byron deal with it correctly? Most definitely not. Cases like these truly reveal the inhumane faces behind big chains; taking on migrant workers and more often than not, paying them less than the minimum wage and giving them far more hours than they really should be working. These are the exploitative conditions that British workers will most likely never have to face. Surely the fact that these migrant workers accept these jobs, no questions asked, is a gateway to how truly desperate they are to better themselves and their families? Perhaps it’s just me, but the Byron case appears to be a taster of what is to come in the UK following Brexit.

If Byron were indeed shown counterfeit documents, then yes, legally, they will not be prosecuted for having taken on these workers. However, the key question here is an ethical one. An employer that values its workers and treats them in a humane manner would have supported them to get the correct, legal papers that would enable them to stay and work in the UK. These people have been treated no better than the animals used to make their burgers- dragged out, punished, chewed up by the authorities and deported. Nobody at Byron thought to stop for a moment and consider the reasons why somebody would travel to the other side of the globe, potentially in life-threatening conditions, just to find a job that pays minimum wage. I think it is safe to say that this will not be the first case like this we will see in the wake of the Brexit decision.

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