October 12 2010
Thousands of workers 'imported' despite job crisis
EMPLOYERS are importing thousands of workers for ordinary jobs from outside the EU, despite record unemployment levels here.
The number of non-EU workers being hired has surged to more than 6,600 so far this year, new figures show.
Workers from outside Ireland and the EU are being hired for jobs on farms, in hotels, restaurants, bars, nursing homes, takeaways, insurance companies, pharmacies and leisure centres.
A large number of the workers are also employed in nursing homes, with permits also issued for workers in guesthouses.
The surge in numbers comes despite rules that insist companies can only hire overseas if they can't get the staff at home or in the EU. The number of people signing on the dole here is just under 450,000.
The figures will raise serious questions about why companies are so desperate for foreign workers -- and whether it is because they are often cheaper and non-unionised.
There are also restrictions on hiring lower-paid workers. But they do not seem to be preventing employers hiring staff in industries where wages are relatively low.
This time last year, only 5,822 work permits had been issued for the first time or renewed, but by September this year, the figure had risen to 6,621, a 14pc increase.
While the numbers are well down on the Celtic Tiger era, in one month alone this year the number of permits granted almost touched 1,200.
In recent years, Irish workers have been rejecting the lowest-paid jobs, although this may change as the labour market continues to worsen.
The rules from the Department of Enterprise are very blunt: permits can only be granted when an employer has "made every effort to recruit an Irish or European Economic Area national for the post".
Recruitment specialists said yesterday that specific language skills were needed for some of the roles, and these were not available in Ireland or the EU.
But they could not explain the large number of overseas workers needed in areas like catering, education, agriculture/fisheries and various service industries.
The Department of Enterprise figures showed that while healthcare and medicine were key areas for recruiting foreign workers, service industries, which cover everything from hairdressing to insurance, also appeared central to the high demand.
For example, in June 1,194 permits were issued, with the largest demand coming from services industries, considerably ahead of healthcare.
The geographical background of those getting permits was highly concentrated, with Indians awarded 1,780 permits, followed by citizens of the Philippines with 1,101 permits and China with 288 permits.
Those awarded permits can only work for the employer sponsoring them initially, but there are ways to change to another employer later on.
The original application can be made by the employee or the employer.
The system was established under the Employment Permits Act of 2003 and 2006.
There have been complaints in recent months by the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) that some unnamed employers were exploiting workers.
The Minister of State in charge of labour affairs, Dara Calleary, recently condemned "any practices by employers that may result in non-compliance with employment rights, entitlements or any other mistreatment of employees".
Mr Calleary pointed out that those employers who contravene employment permits legislation may be liable for fines ranging from €5,000 up to €50,000.
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August 30 2010
Thousands of asylum seekers unaccounted for
UP to 5,500 people who are claiming asylum are not living in the state-provided accommodation centres where asylum seekers are expected to reside, and so fall outside official figures.
According to figures obtained by the Irish Examiner, there are approximately 11,500 cases awaiting processing in the lengthy and complex legal system around asylum – and not just the 6,000-plus who live at the state-funded centres.
Under Department of Justice rules, asylum seekers are not allowed to seek alternative accommodation in the private rented sector.
However, it is understood people who have been claiming asylum for many years have left direct provision centres and may be working cash-in-hand jobs just to pay rent so they no longer have to stay in government accommodation. Others are staying with family or friends.
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August 30 2010
Fewer than 25% served with deportation orders have been removed from State
THE GOVERNMENT has deported fewer than a quarter of the people it targeted for removal from the State over the past decade.
Figures show 3,680 people – the vast majority of whom are failed asylum seekers – have been deported since January 2000. In the same period successive ministers for justice signed some 16,799 deportation orders. The wherabouts of the remaining 13,119 people served with deportation orders is not known. Some have voluntarily returned to their home country, others have fled to other EU states and some live illegally in the State.
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August 24 2010
Hotels increase demand for foreign workers
HOTELS, restaurants and other service industries are increasing demand for foreign workers, latest figures show.
Fresh statistics to July 2010 show a noticeable increase in the number of applications for foreign work permits in the hotel, catering and restaurant sectors. The latest figures show Beshoffs, Blooms Hotel and Brownes Hotel, in Dublin among those applying for fresh work permits.
In many cases, premises are also seeking to renew existing work permits.
In June, catering and service industry businesses applied for 684 new or existing work permits, compared with just 264 in the same period of 2009.
In terms of new permit requests there were 290, while last year in the same month only 105 were made.
The demand for work permits could have two meanings for the industries involved. One is that foreign labour tends to be cheaper. Under this scenario foreign workers may be replacing domestic workers who have been made redundant.
However it is also possible the restaurant and hotel trade is starting to bottom out in some areas and the demand for labour is rebounding.
Can Minister Dara Calleary explain why he is issuing new work permits and renewing others when we have going on for half a million unemployed????There should be no new permits issued and no first time renewals. That includes "ethnic" restaurants. There are sufficient Chinese,Indian and Pakistanis in Ireland, let alone with EU nationalities among the 500 million in the EU!!
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5 August 2010
Second major legal defeat for Government in its attempt to target sham marriages
THE GOVERNMENT has repealed recently introduced restrictions preventing the family members of EU citizens from working while their residency applications are being considered after losing two test cases.
The rules had been introduced in June due to Government concerns over rising unemployment and its ongoing campaign to target so-called “sham marriages” between EU citizens and people from states outside the union.
The restrictions removed the right to work for non-EU family members and spouses of EU citizens while they await a decision on their right to residency in Ireland. Residency applications generally take six months to process.
The rules would have had an impact on about 2,500 people, who are expected to apply for residency in the Republic this year based on legal rights established by EU law.
Last Friday the High Court made orders granting the Chinese wife of a Hungarian citizen and the Pakistani husband of a Latvian citizen the right to work while their applications are being considered. Mr Justice John Cooke said he would deliver his reasons for the decision at a later date but made the declarations because both applicants could have lost their jobs due to the restrictions.
The first case involved Hungarian Peter Decsi and his Chinese wife Huan Zhao, who both work at G45 Security. They got married in March this year and Ms Zhao applied for residency. Ms Zhao, who had been entitled to work part-time on her previous student visa, took up a full-time job at the company.
When the new restrictions were introduced in June by the Government – preventing the non-EU spouses of EU citizens from working while a residency application is considered – Ms Zhao faced the prospect of losing her job and not being allowed to work at all.
Ms Zhao, who was represented by Brophy Solicitors, argued successfully that her rights under EU law were breached by the new regulations preventing her from working and they “seriously jeopardised” her current employment.
The key legal point is based on her rights under the EU’s freedom of movement directive, which says “irrespective of nationality, the family members of a union citizen, who have the right of residence in a member state, shall be entitled to take up employment”.
The second test case, which was taken by Stanley and Co Solicitors in Cork, involved a Latvian wife and a Pakistani husband. A similar declaration was made in this case by Mr Justice Cooke.
The Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI), which campaigned against the new restrictions when they were introduced in June, welcomed the rulings yesterday and renewed its call on the Government to scrap the regulations.
“Our concern was that the new policy would cause unnecessary hardship for migrants lawfully living in Ireland,” said Catherine Cosgrave, ICI senior solicitor. “Friday’s court decision will provide clarity and reassurance to other families, and employers, who may not have known if a non-EU citizen family member has the right to work while they wait for their residence card to be processed. The law is clear – they do.”
In a statement the Department of Justice said last night that in light of the judgment it would revert to its previous policy of granting non-EU family members the right to work while a residency application was being considered.
However, the department said it would “review the issue when the written judgment is available” and said there was no requirement at this point to amend the immigration regulations.
New figures released by the department show 2,712 people applied for residency this year based on legal rights established by EU law. In the year to July 1,463 applications were received.
The High Court decision represents a second major legal defeat for the Government in its attempt to target “sham marriages”.
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4 August 2010
Review ordered for asylum seekers
IMMIGRATION AUTHORITIES have ordered a review into the cases of asylum seekers who are waiting five years or more to receive a final decision on their application to continue living in the State.
The review could benefit about 100 people who have been living in direct provision accommodation centres since 2005. It may be extended to a couple of hundred other asylum seekers, who choose to live outside the centres.
Officials at the Department of Justice have told non-governmental organisations (NGOs) the review is not an amnesty, although it is being undertaken with a view to granting leave to remain to people living here longer than five years.
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20 July 2010
Immigrants not going home
Level of callers to ICI does not support rhetoric of migrants ‘going home’
The level of calls to the Immigrant Council of Ireland’s (ICI) Information and Referral Service in the first half of 2010 has remained consistent with previous years and does not support the rhetoric that migrants are ‘going home’ and instead highlights that many migrants have made Ireland their home.
While some migrants have returned to their countries of origin, they are mainly migrants from the EU12 accession states.
Statistics from the ICI’s client database show that 4,332 calls from people of 142 different nationalities were received by its Information and Referral Service in the first six months of 2010. On average, the service deals with 722 calls each month.
The trends also clearly demonstrate that the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill, 2010, which was introduced this month, represents a missed opportunity to provide Ireland with a clear, fair and comprehensive immigration system. It is worth nothing that the vast majority of the top ten issues raised by the ICI’s service users are not covered in the Bill as it exists at the moment.
Questions relating to renewal of status, residency and leave to remain are the most frequent with citizenship and family reunifications also featuring in the top 10 issues raised this year with the service. ICI staff are reporting that queries are becoming ever more complex and that many are being referred for further support and legal advice to the Independent Law Centre operated by the ICI.
Almost 700 calls were received about citizenship issues this year and a similarly large number of calls related to family reunification and leave to remain issues generally, indicating a desire by callers to become part of the Irish nation and gain recognition that Ireland is now their home.
“These statistics show that the need to ensure migrants have access to clear information about their rights in Ireland remains as strong as ever, as does the need for a fair, transparent and efficient immigration system,” ICI chief executive Denise Charlton said.
“The sheer number of calls we deal with shows that, while some positive initiatives have been implemented the Government is not fulfilling these needs.”
“We have heard rhetoric about the number of migrants who are supposedly ‘going home’ but these figures show that demand for our services has remained consistently high.
“Given the number of queries relating to residency, renewal of status, family reunification and citizenship it does not look like these migrants are leaving their homes in Ireland.”
While citizenship issues continue to be of immense importance to the ICI’s service users, Ireland’s approach to the granting of citizenship remains problematic, with figures released last week by the EU’s statistical office, Eurostat, showing that Ireland has the second lowest rate of acquisition of citizenship in the EU after the Czech Republic.
The statistics also showed that more than 30 per cent of callers to the ICI’s Information and Referral Service are the parents of Irish children. The types of issues they sought information about were varied but most focussed on the renewal of their residency status and applying for citizenship.
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12 July 2010
Deported asylum seeker seeks judicial review
A NIGERIAN national deported in 2009 after he unsuccessfully applied for asylum on the basis he faced persecution in his home country because he is homosexual will this week seek a judicial review in the High Court.
The case is being brought on the basis that Minister for Justice and Law Reform Dermot Ahern failed to take into account the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) guidelines on sexual orientation and gender identity in his refusal to revoke a deportation order in relation to Mobolaji Adams, who was refused asylum on the basis that if he practised “discretion” in Nigeria he would not be persecuted.
The case will be heard a week after five supreme court judges in the UK ruled gay and lesbian asylum seekers should not be expected to “exercise discretion” to avoid persecution.
Mr Adams arrived in Ireland in September 2006 as an unaccompanied minor and applied for asylum, claiming he was assaulted and threatened after his homosexuality was discovered. In December 2006, the Refugee Applications Commissioner refused refugee status on the basis of adverse credibility findings, which are disputed, and on the basis that homosexuals who hide their homosexuality in Nigeria could relocate within the country without facing persecution.
Subsequent appeals to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal were turned down. In 2009, an application for subsidiary protection was rejected by the Minister. A subsequent application for leave to remain was also refused. A letter from the Minister dated February 6th, 2009, stated “if Nigerian homosexuals practise discretion, they are not likely to run foul of the law”. Mr Adams was deported from the State in October 2009.
A judicial review is now being applied for on the basis that analysis of the applicant’s revocation application took place without regard to the provisions contained in the UN refugee agency’s guidelines. These hold being compelled to forsake or conceal sexual orientation and gender identity, where instigated or condoned by the state, may amount to persecution.
According to an Amnesty International report, Nigeria’s criminal code penalises consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults with 14 years’ imprisonment. Consensual homosexual sex is still illegal in about 80 UN member countries while six others still impose the death penalty.
Áine Ní Chonaill of Immigration Control Platform Ireland said the “insanity” of the UK was adequately summed up by Migration Watch UK which stated that the UK ruling could lead to a potentially massive expansion of asylum claims. “If the choice is between having homosexuals from these countries having to act discretely and us being swamped with alleged homosexual claims from 80 countries around the world then they will just have to act discreetly,” she said.
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12 July 2010
Decision over Somali asylum-seeker set aside
A -v- MJELR Anor
Neutral citation: (2010) IEHC 143.
Judgment was delivered on February 3rd, 2010, by Mr Justice John Edwards.
The attribution by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal of an incorrect answer to a Somali asylum- seeker, in circumstances where there was no country of origin information on the matter before the tribunal member, was a clear and manifest error and, because it could not be known what weight the tribunal member attached to this matter, the whole decision should be set aside.
The applicant is a member of the Bajuni minority clan from the island of Koyama in Somalia. Country of origin information stated that Bajuni were the object of contempt from other ethnic groups, which had worsened after the collapse of the Siyad Barre’s regime in the early 1990s, when they were attacked by organised Somali clan militias.
The applicant, who was a fisherman, claimed he was forced to flee Koyoma in 2002 following a series of attacks by members of other Somali clans over the previous two years, in which he claimed he was brutally beaten, his wife was raped twice and his house burned down.
He said he fled initially by boat to an island off Kenya and then to the Kenyan mainland, from where he travelled to Ireland via Amsterdam. The trip was organised by an agent, who took his travel documents. He was refused asylum by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (Orac) and this decision was upheld by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.
The commissioner considered there were serious issues about the applicant’s credibility. He did not speak the Somali language, did not know the identity of famous Bajuni boat-builders, did not know what wood was used to build boats, did not appear to know that Bajuni fishermen used their boats to ferry passengers and lacked adequate knowledge of the size and population of Koyama.
A language analysis test was carried out. This showed that he spoke only Swahili. Bajuni is a dialect of Swahili. The analyst, who spoke Swahili and English, concluded that the applicant could not be placed within the speech community of Somalia, but most likely belonged within the speech of the northern coast of Kenya or Zanzibar.
The presenting officer for Orac said that given the close trading links between Koyama and other islands off the Somali coast, it was unlikely he would have had no knowledge of Somali.
The applicant sought a judicial review of the tribunal’s decision on the grounds that the language test was fundamentally flawed, in that the analyst had no knowledge of Bajuni, but only spoke Swahili; the tribunal did not have adequate regard to his grounds of appeal; it failed to give reasons for its decision and it breached natural and constitutional justice.
Mr Justice Edwards said that in relation to the language analysis, no contradictory expert evidence was adduced on behalf of the applicant and the only matter that might arise was the weight to be attached to the report, which was a matter for the tribunal member. In relation to his knowledge of Somali, the applicant had said in his appeal that he was an only child whose father died when he was young and his mother only spoke Bajuni.
He said this was not taken account of in the appeal.
Mr Justice Edwards said the member had expressly stated she took this into account. He said entirely adequate reasons for the member’s decision were given.
A submission was made on behalf of the applicant that where an adverse finding of credibility was made, and where one or more of those reasons was arrived at through an unfair procedure, then the whole of the decision must fall.
In relation to the material used in building boats, Mr Justice Edwards said: “It was a clear and manifest error to confront the applicant with a demand to know with what particular type of wood Bajuni fishing boats are made and to attribute an ‘incorrect answer’ to him in circumstances where there was simply no country of origin information.”
This “incorrect answer” was just one of a series of circumstances causing the member to conclude that the applicant lacked the knowledge in question. It was impossible to know what weight the member attached to each of the reasons given by her.
On this one discrete issue, he concluded that the applicant had shown grounds for arguing that the decision should be set aside.
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17 February 2010
Nigerian 'king' lost Tesco job because of regal duty
A Nigerian king-in-waiting who was fired after he overstayed a Tesco time-off deal for regal duties in his home village has been awarded €10,000 compensation for unfair dismissal.
An Employment Appeals Tribunal found that Tesco had failed to "adhere to any of the procedures" when it dismissed Edward Agbaje, of The Sycamores, Edenderry, Co Offaly.
Mr Agbaje, who said he is now a taxi driver taking home €31 a week after expenses, had started work with Tesco in May 2006. Speaking at his home in Co Offaly yesterday, Mr Agbaje expressed disappointment at the level of the tribunal settlement.
As he comes from royal lineage, Mr Agbaje had been required to carry out ceremonies in his native village in preparation for his ascendancy to the throne.
In April 2008, he booked four weeks' holidays to return to Nigeria as he had been selected to be the future king of his village. However, he was unable to return for six weeks due to the processes involved in his village regarding his kingship.
He told the tribunal that when he returned to work he explained the position to the company and said his kingship would possibly mean he had to return to the village at a later date. "The process in his local village in Nigeria has to do with tradition and he had to fall in line with that process. Because of this he was not in control of his return date," the tribunal was told. Mr Agbaje's explanation was accepted by the company and he did not receive any warning and no disciplinary action was taken against him.
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