Policy Briefing Papers

Situating Migrant Workers in a Decent Work Agenda: The Need for Solidarity in Recession Ireland

This paper was developed by Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) to input in to the roundtable on Migration and Decent Work organised by MRCI in collaboration with the Coalition to Protect the Lowest Paid on October 2012.1 It aims to contribute to the debate on realising and addressing the rights of migrant worker’s, who have made Ireland their home within the broader struggle for decent working conditions for all low paid workers. It also seeks to consider a rights based response to labour migration in to the future.

A far greater number of migrants remained in Ireland despite the recession. In 2011 the pace of inward migration to Ireland slowed but the number of non-Irish nationals living in Ireland numbered 544,357.2 It is also forecasted that migration will increase in to the future.3 By 2015, immigration - at the current level - will not be sufficient to maintain the working age population in many OECD countries, especially in the EU.’4 Migration will continue to be a central element of Ireland’s economic development.

The severity and endurance of the economic recession has compounded the issues for all low paid workers including migrant workers. One fifth of all workers in Ireland are low paid and women, young people and migrants are adversely affected. In tandem the dismantling of the equality infrastructure and a continued push for labour force ‘competitiveness’ and flexibility in the workplace to attract inward investment is creating the conditions for the growth of precarious work. From a workers’ point of view, precarious work is related to uncertain, unpredictable and risky employment.’ Ireland’s labour market is now one of the most flexible in the OECD.

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