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EU Ministers must make migrant rights a priority

Date Released: 16 January 2013

Ahead of the meeting of Ministers for Justice and Home Affairs taking place in Dublin on Thursday,17th January, and Friday, 18th January, as part of Ireland’s EU Presidency, the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) called for action and leadership in protecting the rights of migrants and their families.

Siobhán O’Donoghue, Director of MRCI, said: “The Justice Ministers will be discussing migration and growth when they meet tomorrow. Throughout these meetings they need to reinforce the social, economic and political rights of migrants and their families so they are not simply viewed as units of labour needed to fuel economic growth.”
 
She continued, “The response to the economic crisis in Europe is painting a clear picture of who and what we value in society. Attempts to dismantle the systems that set and protect the wages and conditions of low-paid workers – many of whom are migrants – are contributing to an increase in the gap between rich and poor.”
 
This EU Presidency aims to secure agreement on the Seasonal Workers Directive. O’Donoghue explained, “This Directive allows for temporary seasonal immigration without clear protection of rights. This move towards more temporary immigration erodes labour rights and standards and dehumanises migrant workers. EU policies must include rights, protections and standards. Attacking migrant workers’ rights opens the door to attacks on the rights of all workers.”
 
European institutions and political leaders have an important role to play in bringing stability and shaping Europe’s future. The discussions must acknowledge the EU’s changing demographics and our need for both high-skilled and essential workers, especially in sectors like care and agriculture. We need more, not fewer permanent legal channels of migration to respond to these trends.
 


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