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Government should support migrant workers

Revision of benefits support for workers from EEA member states, says report 26 November 2008. The report "Issues affecting migrant workers in Wales, their families and the communities in which they live and work" found a lack of knowledge of labour rights and poor English.

Members of the equality of opportunity committee said migrants created new businesses and met labour shortages, but a significant number of this valuable workforce are unscrupulously exploited. The National Assembly for Wales’ Equality of Opportunity Committee will publish anothe report early next year.

The report focuses both on issues affecting migrant workers in Wales – calling for more opportunities for English language learning – and on issues affecting communities in which migrant workers live and work – calling for a co-ordinated approach to mapping migrant worker numbers in communities, to enable better service planning.

Chair of the Committee, Ann Jones AM, launching the report in the Pierhead building of Cardiff Bay commented: “While undertaking the inquiry, I was encouraged by the support offered to migrant workers, to help them integrate into the community and workplace.

“However, I was disappointed to learn of exploitation amongst this valuable workforce, often due to people not being aware of their rights and responsibilities, an issue exacerbated by language barriers.

“I hope all our recommendations, particularly those concerned with English language training, are accepted by the Welsh Assembly Government, to help overcome such barriers.

"Addressing the issue of language ourselves, in addition to our main report, we have produced a summary document, which is available in languages other than English and Welsh on request.

“I am also concerned about the number of myths circulating about migrant workers which encourages discrimination and harassment. Contrary to explosive headlines that ‘immigration brings more crime’, evidence received in this inquiry suggests that migrant workers are no more likely to be the perpetrators, or victims, of crime than other UK citizens.

"The Committee took evidence outlining that far from ‘taking other people’s jobs’, many migrant workers took on low-paid and low-skilled work where there were labour shortages.

“Members consider that migrant workers in Wales create new business and boost our economy. Wales has a long history of migration and diversity, and we should celebrate this. Responsible media reporting of stories concerning migrant workers can play a critical role in dispelling many of the myths circulating about migrant workers.

“We have made a number of recommendations to the Welsh Assembly Government and listed examples of good practice which I hope will ensure equality of opportunity for migrant workers, their families, the organisations and staff with whom they come into contact, and other people in the communities in which they live and work.”

Here is the full report.

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