Who are the losers?

Oct 25th, 2006 | By | Category: Ireland

The Irish government has followed their British counterparts in banning the free entrance to the labour market to Romanian and Bulgarian workers when their countries enter the European Union next year.

Who does this benefit? It’s intended to protect workers in the home labour markets, but the permit system that will be applied to the Romanians and the Bulgarians is no different than that which currently applies to the Chinese in Ireland.

No-one knows how many Chinese are in Ireland, estimates vary, some say as many as 60,000. Many of them are here officially on English courses. Most are not allowed work permits, but while studying they are allowed to work twenty hours a week. As part time workers they enjoy no protection, no benefits, and lower wages. When they have done their twenty hours and want to do more, what happens? They move into the black economy, sometimes under assumed names, and they work for exploitative rates of pay.

Who has the work permit system benefited? Not the Irish workers, not the immigrant workers; it has benefited unscrupulous employers who know that the illegal workers are in no position to bargain.

So it will be with the Romanians and Bulgarians, if their economic plight is such that they are not to be accorded the rights enjoyed by other European Union nationals, they will still come and they will accept the exploitative work as millions of Irish did in the United States for generations.

The government has made a grand gesture and, as always, the working man pays for it.European Union next year. rts in banning Romanian

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