Press Centre

Migrant Rights Centre Ireland calls for work permit restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian nationals to be removed

PRESS RELEASE: 14 February 2007

In response to the recent concerns about Romanian nationals accessing work through self employment means, Siobhan O’Donoghue, Director of the MRCI has said that “putting in place restrictions against people from Bulgaria and Romania when there is an obvious demand for workers merely creates the conditions for them to end up being recruited as self-employed and potentially being exploited by employers. We are calling for work permit requirements to be removed, giving equal employment rights to all EU citizens including Romanians and Bulgarians.”

Ms O’Donoghue went on to explain that, in the experience of the MRCI, where restrictions are placed on workers at a time when there is a demand for labour, recruiters and employers will often find a way to circumvent these restrictions.  This leads to situations where people are told to register as self-employed when they are in fact working as employees and should be paid directly by the employer.  She emphasised that removing the restrictions on workers from Romania and Bulgaria would help to combat poor employment standards and ensure that all employees have access to their rights, including proper wages and access to social protection in the event of a problem.

Last October, in advance of the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the EU, the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland called on the Irish government to respect the principle of free movement for all European Union Citizens - one of the founding principles of the EU.  The MRCI had warned that putting in place work restrictions for EU Citizens may undermine labour standards and lead to informal sub-contracting situations.  Ms O’Donoghue reiterated this warning, saying “if people are serious about preventing exploitation, restrictions on our fellow EU workers should be lifted immediately.”