Migrant workers ‘should be free to change jobs’

MIGRANT workers should have the right to change employers without fear of losing their work permit, according a new poll.

The results of the MRBI poll of 1,000 people, carried out on behalf of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI), were released ahead of today’s appearance by Labour Affairs Minister Dara Calleary before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Innovation. The minister will be asked to answer questions about the right to change employer.

The migrant rights group’s survey found that almost two-thirds of those surveyed believed workers with permits should be allowed to change employer without having to meet the Government’s current conditions.

People from outside the EU require an employment permit to work in Ireland.

According to MRCI, under the current system, people with permits can only work within a specified job category and only for the employer named on the permit.

“If a worker with a permit wishes to change employer... the worker must stay with their first employer for a minimum of one year and then make an application for a new work permit. A new permit application costs €1,000 and can take up to two months to process,” it said.

In the MRBI poll, participants were asked whether or not workers on a permit should be allowed to change employer without having to meet current conditions.

Almost 60% of respondents said workers on a permit should be allowed to change employer without having to meet the conditions, 40% said they should not and 1% said they did not know.

“Most people realise that when you bind workers to an employer and deny them the right to freely change, it leads to exploitation,” said Bill Abom, deputy director of the MRCI.

Mr Abom said MRCI hoped the result might convince Mr Calleary and the Government to make a simple administrative change that would give workers the freedom to change employer within their existing permit.

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