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).

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Worker Registration Scheme: ‘abuse of human rights’

More questions, more calls for it’s abolition, but no answers yet on the WRS

The MP for Glasgow South West has submitted a written question as to the future of the WRS, on behalf of a Glasgow Polish residents association. We await a response from the Minister.

Meanwhile, the Lords have been asking questions, amid evidence that the scheme leads to human rights abuses. Continue reading

End of the Worker Registration Scheme?

About 10 months ago I wrote a post on the Worker Registration Scheme (WRS), speculating on it’s planned demise come May 1st 2009.

As May Day approaches, that old post has been getting more and more hits;  presumably people are searching the web trying to find out if the WRS really is about to end. Is it worth paying £90 to register your employment for a couple of months?  That was the question a settled Polish worker asked of me the other day, in regard to his recently arrived son (adding that many people don’t bother registering these days anyway).

No one seems to know for sure if the WRS will end on May 1st. You can vote on what you think will happen in our wee poll at the end of this message, but first…

To recap…

Continue reading

Crusade against the undocumented

Every day, across the UK, aggressive raids are being carried out at workplaces to root out those without papers.

Britain’s ethnic restaurant sector is under attack from government officials who, in their single-minded drive to meet ever higher targets for deportation, have no interest in the impact of their policies on small family businesses or the effect on Britain’s high streets. Workplace immigration raids, and raids on the homes of low-paid care workers and cleaners, carried out in unprecedented numbers and resulting in unprecedented rates of removal of people for transgressing immigration laws, see family assets wiped out, families criminalised, and skilled and hard working men and women jailed or deported.

Every day, somewhere in the UK, immigration officers, often with police, frequently wearing stab-proof vests, surround High Street restaurants, takeaways and convenience stores, seal exits and storm in…
Read full article: By Frances Webber, published by IRR
http://www.irr.org.uk/2009/february/ha000011.html

Active citizenship: “socio-political engineering”

In the Borders, Immigration and Citizenship Bill, the Government wants migrants to commit to ‘active citizenship opportunities’, but that amounts to coopting the voluntary sector for a piece of socio-political engineering, says Stephen Cook, in an editorial for 3rd Sector magazine.

There is a fundamental objection: Volunteering should, as far as possible, be its own reward, and this proposal makes it a means to an end. Those willing and able to take part will in many cases do so simply for personal advancement, and those unable or unwilling to participate will be unfairly disadvantaged. The voluntary sector would do well to start marshalling its forces to have this measure dropped from the bill.

read the full article… (external link)

Criminalising migration in Europe

“It is wrong to criminalise migration”

Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights for the Council of Europe, writes in his latest Viewpoint of the current wave of xenophobia, criminalising irregular migrants – including those seeking political asylum – under the guise of managed migration policies.

The Commissioner recommends member states to accede to the 1990 International Convention on Migrant Workers, the most comprehensive, international treaty on migrant workers reaffirming and establishing basic human rights. To date it has been ratified by four and signed by two Council of Europe member states, even though many European countries actively participated in its drafting. Continue reading

Return of the Free Movement blog

Great news: the Free Movement blog is back, with inside knowledge, news, gossip and commentary on the wonderful world of UK migration controls, from a barrister specialising in immigration law. Continue reading