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Huge increase in workers on employment permits seeking help

By 19 December 2022No Comments

Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) has seen a huge increase in workers on general employment permits seeking our assistance and support in 2022. This includes people trying to change jobs due to poor conditions, challenge exploitation, and bring their family to live with them.

Over the last 18 months the government has extended general employment permits to care and homecare workers, meat workers, construction workers, healthcare assistants, haulage drivers, dairy workers, and bus and coach drivers.  However, Ireland operates a tiered employment permit system and does not provide the same rights to everyone coming here to work.

Edel McGinley Director with MRCI said “Workers recruited into these essential jobs cannot freely change employer, it is also very hard to bring your family here, and even if you can there is no right for those family members to work. This is in stark contrast to workers on critical skills employment permits who enjoy all these rights from day one. Why is a person who provides care for our loved ones or puts food on our tables treated differently?”.

Marcos, originally from Brazil, and working in meat processing in County Meath said, “When we complain about pay or the work conditions, the boss tells you that if you don’t like it, you can go back to your country. He knows we can’t just leave and just go somewhere else. I want to change to another company but it’s too difficult.  I would need to apply for a whole new work permit which costs a lot of money, takes time, and will put my immigration status at risk.”

Other EU countries such as Spain, Portugal, Sweden and Germany give workers the right to change employer easily while staying on their employment permit. This makes a huge difference to worker’s capability to stand up for their rights and protect themselves from exploitation. Ireland has the opportunity to do the same in the upcoming Employment Permits Bill 2022.

Edel McGinley concluded, “We are calling on Minister English to honour his commitment made in relation to the Employment Permits Bill last month, to introduce a way for workers on an employment permit to easily change employer, without having to apply for a whole new permit.”


Notes to the Editor