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de Brún tells EU to "lift restrictions against workers across Europe"

4 April, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has this morning called for EU member states to "remove restrictions placed on migrant workers and allow for the free movement of workers right across the EU".

Ms de Brún made her calls before she spoke in a European Parliament debate in Strasbourg today on worker's rights. The report by Csaba Ãry MEP was entitled "on the transitional arrangements restricting the free movement of workers on EU labour markets".

Speaking today Ms de Brún said:

"On May 1st 2004, with the accession of the 10 new EU member states Ireland, Britain and Sweden opened up their labour markets to workers from the new member states. The other 12 states decided to apply certain restrictions to the recently joined countries. 8 of those states have now opted to extend these transitional arrangements.

"The positive experience of Ireland should encourage other countries who introduced transitional arrangements to lift these restrictions. Sinn Féin and the trade union movement support the decision not to introduce transitional arrangements in Ireland and I have signed the written declaration here in the parliament calling for such restrictions to be lifted.

"Ainneoin na himní a léirigh daoine éagsúla nuair a méadaíodh an tAontas ó thráth go chéile, níor chuir saor-ghluaiseacht oibrithe isteach ar shaormhargaí náisiúnta.

"Tar éis an mhéadaithe is déanaí bhí tionchar dearfach ag an ghluaiseacht imirce ar gheilleagar chúig bhallstát déag an Aontais Eorpaigh. Níor brúdh amach oibrithe áitiúla ag saoránaigh na mball nua ach chuir siad leis an gheilleagar ar dhóigh chabhrach.

"The Irish experience has been overwhelmingly positive, with migrant workers contributing to society and enriching the cultural fabric of the nation.

"However, we must go further than merely calling for free movement of labour. We must defend the rights of those workers to equal treatment. We cannot ignore the issue of employment conditions and the continued exploitation of workers. Even in Ireland unscrupulous employers have used the lack of free movement of workers within the EU to introduce discrimination as regards salaries and working conditions based on nationality. We must combat this strongly. We must also oppose restrictions on social security and other social protections.

"Irish emigrants have forged a life for themselves outside of Ireland, in places like Britain, North America and Australia, and we must embrace those who come to Ireland in the same way. At the same time we must work to combat exploitation and discrimination wherever it exists." ENDS

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