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Irregular migrants continue to be exploited says Fra report

Last update - Friday, July 15, 2011, 22:21 By Metro Éireann

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (Fra) has presented its latest report on the conditions of irregular migrants employed as domestic workers.

According to Fra’s findings, irregular migrants – individuals who reside in EU member states without a residence permit or visa – in the domestic service industry are especially vulnerable to exploitation due to both their irregular status and to more large-scale difficulties in regulating domestic employment.
Fra’s report states that this exploitation has taken the form of physical abuse, as well as low pay, excessive work hours, and lack of compensation for work-related accidents.
The report gives special focus to women, who make up the majority of irregular migrants in domestic work. Specifically for women, this exploitation has reportedly taken the form of gender-based violence and/or discrimination.
Fra director Morten Kjaerum framed the reported exploitation as a human-rights issue, citing “core labour law and and human rights standards” that must be upheld in employment cases such as those detailed in the report.
He continued: “In practice, the fear of deportation or dismissal deters victims from going to court, when they have been abused or exploited by their employers. Because possible deportation is the price of access to justice, often those who mistreat irregular domestic workers go unpunished. ”
The report is based on data from 10 EU member states, collected through interviews with domestic workers, civil society organisations and trade unions.
In addition to presenting specific trends in exploitation of migrant workers, the report provides several suggestions for preventing these issues in the future. These include extending labour inspection supervision to the domestic work sector, introducing standards that ensure minimum wage and sick leave, and pledging accessible judicial support to trade unions and NGOs.

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