Press Centre

Appeal to Tánaiste to stop the changes that will force migrant workers underground

PRESS RELEASE: 26 May 2009

Demonstration Today to Stop Work Permit Changes Coming on June 1st

At noon today migrant workers, along with trade union and employer allies, will be holding a demonstration outside the offices of the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Coughlan, T.D., calling on her to stop the changes to the Work Permits System due to be enacted next week.

Under the new rules, migrant workers on permits who are made redundant will be prohibited from taking up a new job unless it is has been publicly advertised for two months.  The change will be an enormous barrier for people to get another job, regardless of how long they have been living and working here.  Many people and their families who have madeIrelandtheir home will be forced to leave or will have no other choice but to stay and work informally.

“The changes will force these migrant workers into undocumented work and push them underground,” states Fr. Bobby Gilmore, Chairperson on the Migrant Rights CentreIreland.  “Forcing people into the informal economy will not create jobs for Irish workers.  It will encourage exploitation and it will be a loss to revenue.  Have we not learned our lesson from the Irish experience in theUnited Statesand elsewhere?”

SIPTU National Industrial Secretary, Gerry McCormack, says, “It is clear that permission-to-work schemes do not contribute to the overall increase in unemployment. The work permit system is already regulating itself. Our concern is that these changes will lead to greater exploitation of highly vulnerable workers, and will undermine standards for all workers inIreland.”

Yaiz M., a migrant worker fromMalaysiaexplains, “I have been living inIrelandfor the past nine years with my wife and two children.  I recently lost my job and I am worried what will happen to my family, especially with these new work permit changes.  I want the government to consider people like me who have committed themselves toIreland, to at least give us a fair chance.”

Demonstration to Stop the Work Permit Changes

When: Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Time:  12:00 midday

Where:  Offices of the Tánaiste and Minister forEnterprise, Trade and Employment,23 Kildare Street,Dublin 2