Press Centre

EU Justice & Home Affairs Ministers Must Make Migrant Rights a Priority

MEDIA RELEASE 16.01.2013

Ahead of the meeting of Ministers for Justice and Home Affairs taking place in Dublin on the 17th and 18th of January as part of Ireland’s EU Presidency, the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) called for action and leadership in protecting the rights of migrants and their families.

Siobhán O’Donoghue, Director of MRCI, said “The Justice Ministers will be discussing migration and growth when they meet tomorrow. Throughout these meetings they need to reinforce the social, economic and political rights of migrants and their families so they are not simply viewed as units of labour needed to fuel economic growth.”’

She continued, “The response to the economic crisis in Europe is painting a clear picture of who and what we value in society. Attempts to dismantle the systems that set and protect the wages and conditions of low-paid workers – many of whom are migrants – are contributing to an increase in the gap between rich and poor.”

This EU Presidency aims to secure agreement on the Seasonal Workers Directive. O’Donoghue explained, “This Directive allows for temporary seasonal immigration without clear protection of rights. This move towards more temporary immigration erodes labour rights and standards and dehumanises migrant workers. EU policies must include rights, protections and standards. Attacking migrant workers’ rights opens the door to attacks on the rights of all workers.”

European institutions and political leaders have an important role to play in bringing stability and shaping Europe’s future. The discussions must acknowledge the EU’s changing demographics and our need for both high-skilled and essential workers, especially in sectors like care and agriculture. We need more, not fewer permanent legal channels of migration to respond to these trends.

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Notes to Editor: 

DG Home Affairs Immigration section

Draft Seasonal Workers Directive:

Summary of Directive

The stated objectives of the directive are: to answer a permanent need for low and unskilled labour in sectors employing seasonal workers, to create a common entry system for seasonal workers across the Schengen area, and to address the exploitation and sub-standard working conditions in the seasonal work sector for third-country nationals.

The objective is weakened by the political choice to define different sets of rights for different groups of workers. In its current formulation the directive does not offer sustainable solutions for reducing exploitation and improving working conditions within the sector.

PDF of Directive

Joint NGO Statement on EU Seasonal Workers Directive