Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Litany of exploitation proof of need to reform work permits system

24 March, 2005

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade and Employment Arthur Morgan T.D. called for legislation to be immediately brought forward to reform the work permits system in light of the litany of revelations of exploitation of migrant workers which have come to public attention in recent days.

Deputy Morgan said, "The cases of the construction workers employed by GAMA Construction, the farm labourers in the South East and the case of the Filipino woman employed by Irish Ferries are just the tip of the iceberg. Many more migrant workers are being exploited behind closed doors by their employers. The current work permit system is forcing them to remain in the employment of their exploitative bosses.

"I am reiterating the call made by Sinn Féin on numerous occasions for legislation to be introduced by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment MÃúcheál Martin T.D. as a priority so that the work permit would be held by the employee rather than the employer. The current system whereby workers are tied to one employer results in migrant workers being in a position not unlike bonded laborers. They have very little chance of leaving jobs where they are being exploited. There is now ample evidence that this the case.

"While this Government continues to oppose reform of the work permit system any mock concerns expressed by them regarding the plight of these workers will ring very hollow. The Government and Minister Martin's failure to act on this matter is resulting in migrants who make a huge contribution to the economy of this state continuing to be open to appalling exploitation."ENDS

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