Poll supports changes to work permit system

ALMOST two-thirds of people believe migrants here on work permits should be allowed to change their employer without condition, according to a new opinion poll.

The TNS-MRBI opinion poll, commissioned by the Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland (MRCI), will be published today.

The MRCI said the indications were that 60% of those questioned said they agreed that migrants should be allowed to change employer simply by notifying the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

Under the current system a work permit is only issued to migrants on the condition that they are coming here to work for a named employer.

The MRCI has argued that this is “the number one factor in worker exploitation”, a point they raised again yesterday before the Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Innovation.

During a presentation to the committee by theMRCI’s deputy director, Bill Abom, the committee heard of a recording made by a migrant worker living here with an Irish family who was the subject of alleged exploitation and threats.

The recording, made last year, features an Irishman telling the worker: “If you leave this house you are going to be deported back home.

“You are going back in shackles to Manilla, in chains.

“That’s how fast it’s going to happen.”

Mr Abom said the MRCI had liaised with the department for the past three years, and with three different ministers, but no change had been made to current system.

“There are approximately 25,000 migrant workers currently in the employment permit system in Ireland,” he said.

“Permit holders are tied to their employer, that is, they are only allowed to work for the employer stated on their permit and cannot freely change employer,” he said.

“Recently, for example, a chef in Dublin who has been working in Ireland for four years came to us to explain that he is working a 70-hour week for €250, far below minimum wage.

“A domestic worker from the midlands who cares for four children came to us saying that she is working 10-12 hour days for €5 per hour.”

Due to what he called the “limited response” to its calls, the MRCI began a campaign earlier this year, for which the opinion poll is the latest step.


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