PRESS RELEASE: 23 January 2007
In welcoming the publication of the new National Development Plan, Transforming Ireland - A Better Quality of Life for All, director of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland Siobhan O’Donoghue said the challenge is to ensure that migrant workers and their families also share in the vision articulated.MRCI Calls for Action to Protect Migrant Workers in Implementation of NDP
‘We note that commentators in recent days have called for a ‘fast tracking’ of major infrastructural projects. The reality is that the people employed to carry out the work on these projects will be migrant workers. Where are the guarantees that projects will be completed without the exploitation and abuse of vulnerable workers? We must avoid another GAMMA situation at all costs.’ She called for all public contracts to contain clauses securing fair treatment of workers employed and subcontracted.
The commitment to immigrant integration was welcomed by the MRCI, in particular the allocation of €36 million. However Ms O’ Donoghue stated ‘what is unclear is if the package announced is in fact new funds or a restatement of existing commitments. It has been stated on numerous occasions that integration of migrant communities is a priority for this government. We know from experience elsewhere that successful integration requires substantial resources and must move beyond a piecemeal, ad hoc approach.’
Ms O’ Donoghue also drew attention to the plans for further expansion of our tourism sectors, services sector and care work etc. She reiterated concerns in relation to the need for parallel improvements in the enforcement of employment standards and protections for employees, increasingly migrant workers in these areas.
Finally she drew attention to the need for a planned, consistent approach in policy developments. She gave the example of the new, more restricted, regulations governing the allocation of work permits on the one hand, and the need for more migrant workers to implement the NDP commitments on the other. This is a recipe for a possible increase in exploitation, which can lead to workers becoming undocumented through no fault of their own.