Migration policy, racism and inequality in Scotland

“It strikes me that too often we seek comfort in a Scottish consensus that we are all Jock Tamsons’s  bairns – citizens of a fair and equal nation. We like to think we are free of racism and other inequalities because we prefer that to the truth.  In order to live up to our own self image we have to make the sentiment of our songs real, and openly say ‘this Scotland is not good enough’ , and then work to make it better. Our welcome and behaviour towards newcomers is only the starting point.”

Morag Alexander, Scotland Commissioner, Equality and Human Rights Commission

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Worker Registration Scheme extended for 2 years

Despite evidence that the Worker Registration Scheme leads to violations of human rights, putting vulnerable workers at more risk of exploitation and abuse, the UK Government has decided to extend the scheme for a further two years.

In a press release issued today, Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas was “delighted to announce keeping in place restrictions … which limit Eastern Europeans’ access to benefits.”

This means that people from eight European Union countries can (for a fee of £90) continue to excercise their rights as EU citizens to work and pay taxes in the UK, but, unlike UK citizens working in Europe, will have no right to state assistance should they need it.

So the worker who loses his job may become homeless and destitute, with no housing benefit of homeless assistance while he looks for work. And the woman with a violent partner may find no sanctuary. These are just two of the examples highlighted by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commision in it’s evidence to the Migration Advisory Committee, calling for the WRS to be scrapped.

The UK will become one of only five of the 27 EU member states to keep restrictions on the rights of “A8” nationals, those citizens of the countries which joined the European Union in 2004 (the other countries with restrictions are Denmark, Belgium, Austria and Germany).

Research: Migrant impact on UK jobs and wages negligible

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has published a new study suggesting that European migration since EU expansion in 2004  has had no negative impact on either UK employment levels or wages – in fact there may have been a small positive impact.

The Economic Impacts of Migration on the UK Labour Market study is based largely on data from the Labour Force Survey and Department for Work and Pensions figures on national insurance numbers from 2001 to 2007, as well as a review of the existing literature and economic theory. Continue reading

EU states open up to Bulgarian, Romanian workers

The New Year has brought with it the lifting of restrictions for Bulgarian and Romanian workers in Greece, Spain and Denmark, but a number of EU states will be keeping barriers to their labour markets for three more years.

Greece on Wednesday (31 December) became the latest “old” EU member to lift restrictions for Bulgarian and Romanian workers, following Spain and Denmark which set the example earlier in December. Continue reading

December 18 is International Migrants Day

On 4 December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly, taking into account the large and increasing number of migrants in the world, proclaimed 18 December International Migrants Day (resolution 55/93). On that day, in 1990, the Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (resolution 45/158).

As the 9th International Migrants Day is marked this Thursday, the head of the International Labor Organization (ILO) cautioned rich economies against taking hasty action on migrant workers as part of measures taken to mitigate the financial crisis.

In a statement, ILO Director-General Juan Somavia warned:

The current global financial and economic crises have serious implications for migrant workers worldwide. Past experience makes us painfully aware that migrant workers, especially women workers and those in irregular status, are among the hardest hit and most vulnerable during crisis situations.

Director-General Juan Somavia added:

“It is important that migrant workers do not become scapegoats for the current financial and economic crisis”

more info and full statement at: www.ilo.org

also see: www.december18.net

The picture is grim for Europe’s Roma

David Mark, co-ordinator of the European Roma Policy Coalition, writing in EUobserver

With global markets shattered and far-right groups gaining strength across the continent, anti-Gypsism has risen dramatically this past year. Living often on the fringes of society, Roma have been the target of racist violence across Europe, with attacks this autumn in Italy, Czech Republic, and Hungary.

read full article…

IPPR Report on The local economics of migration

Your Place or Mine? The local economics of migration

This working paper, published 4th September 2008, is the first from ippr’s Economics of Migration project.

The project aims to improve understanding of the economic impacts of migration in the UK, and how policy should respond to that migration in order to maximise its economic benefits, and minimise its costs.

This paper makes clear the variety of ways in which migration may have affected local firms and economies. While some impacts of migration – such as filling local skills gaps – are quite visible, migration also affects local economies in less noticeable ways, such as by boosting local markets. The paper brings these out, and underlines the importance of looking at migration’s longer-term impacts in local areas, as well as its short-term effects.

Read the IPPR press release here or click here to download the report pdf from IPPR website