Press Centre

Poll shows a majority in favour of the right to change employer

PRESS RELEASE: 25 October 2010

Minister Calleary called to appear before Oireachtas committee tomorrow

According to a Ipsos MRBI poll, the majority of the Irish public believe that migrant workers with employment permits should be allowed to change employer without condition.

The poll of 1,000 people commissioned by the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) and conducted by Ipsos MRBI in late September, asked whether those with employment permits should be allowed to change employer without having to meet the government’s current conditions.  59% indicated that workers with permits should be allowed to change employer without having to meet the conditions, 40% indicated they should not be allowed and 1% did not know.

“Most people realise that when you bind workers to an employer and deny them the right to freely change it leads to exploitation,” says Bill Abom, Deputy Director of the MRCI.  “Even in the midst of the current economic downturn and job crisis, the majority of the Irish public believe that ensuring workers are free from exploitation is paramount.”

Mr. Abom says, “It is our hope that this result will convince Minister Dara Calleary to make a simple administrative change that would give workers the freedom change their employer.  The public realise this issue is not about undermining government controls or about issuing more permits.  It is about protecting labour standards and affording basic rights to people already in Ireland trying to support themselves and their families.  Most agree that it’s reasonable and common sense.”

Surinder Singh, exploited for six years on a work permit says, “I am encouraged by the result.  I worked 16-hour days, with no days off, for €100 per month.  When I asked for a day off my employer told me that if I wanted one I could go back to India.  My employer would say to me that I was on his work permit.  I hope the Minister will finally change this system so that this won’t continue to happen to other workers with permits.”

Tomorrow, Tuesday 26 October, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Innovation has called the Minister for Labour Affairs, Dara Calleary, T.D., to appear to answer questions in relation to the right to change employer.

Ends

 

Notes:

  1. Tuesday, 26 October 2010, 2.00 p.m. 

The Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Innovation will meet in Committee Room 1, Leinster House 2000.   * Right to Change Employer Campaign: Dara Calleary, T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment with special responsibility for Labour Affairs

 

  1. Ipsos MRCI Poll

Q. 1.  Most people from outside the EU require an employment permit in order to work in Ireland.  Under this system, people with permits can only work within a specified job category and only for the employer named on the permit. If a worker with a permit wishes to change employer there are a number of conditions which must be met. The worker must stay with their first employer for a minimum of one year and then make an application for a new work permit. A new permit application costs €1,000 and can take up to 2 months to process. In your opinion, should workers on a permit be allowed to change employer without having to meet these conditions or should workers on a permit not be allowed to change employer without meeting these conditions?

  • 59%    Workers on a permit should be allowed to change employer without having to meet these conditions.
  • 40%     Workers on a permit should not be to change employer without meeting these conditions.
  • 1%       Don’t Know

 

  1. Background on the Campaign for the Right to Change Employer

Since March 2010 the MRCI has been campaigning for an administrative change to the employment permit system that would give employment permit holders the right to freely change employer in their job sector.  Currently, permit holders are tied to their employer, that is, they are only allowed to work for the employer stated on their permit and cannot freely change employer.  There are significant conditions to change employer and these hinder permit holders from attempting to change and create the conditions that trap workers in situations of exploitation.  Approximately 80% of all the cases taken by the MRCI for exploitation involve workers in the permit system.

Recent reports by the United Nations, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), The International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Amnesty International, all indicate that the practice of linking a worker to a single employer and limiting the options to change employer contributes to exposing migrant workers to greater risk of labour exploitation.  A 2009 UN Report on Contemporary Forms of Slavery Including its Causes and Consequences called for the abolishment of “…immigration regimes that tie a visa to the sponsorship of a single employer.”    The EU Commission has also looked at establishing a framework for work permits and it has indicated in its proposals that “the work permit should not be limited to only one employer but should be related to their sector of specialisation.”

For more info on the campaign see:  www.mrci.ie