Policy Briefing Papers

Ending the Race to the Bottom: Changing the Balance for Migrant Workers in Ireland


The exploitation of migrant workers in Ireland, particularly in low-paid employment sectors, is commonplace. There are a number of factors that contribute to migrant workers’ increased vulnerability, such as restrictions from moving employer for employment permit holders and fears of problems with immigration. Weak enforcement policies and a culture of noncompliance in many low-wage sectors that employ large numbers of migrant workers is also a significant factor. These realities make it extremely difficult and risky for migrant workers to challenge employers who take the ‘low-road’ of exploitation. While there is no easy solution to ending exploitation, there are key policy changes that would begin to reduce the risk migrant workers face in challenging exploitation, and deter employers from exploiting.

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