May 192011
 

The General Secretary of ICMSA, Ciaran Dolan, noted that the EU directive for a single permit arrangement for non-EU workers has been recently adopted by the Parliament and the directive will now go to the Council of Ministers. Mr Dolan stated that while Ireland, together with the UK and Denmark, have excluded themselves from the provisions of the directive, the continuing presence of non-Irish in the Irish workforce is still an important aspect. This applies equally to workers in Irish farming and the agriculture sector generally.  The peak number of work permits issued to non-Irish workers was reached in 2003 but this included countries that are now part of the European Union and who now have rights under EU to work without any permit in Ireland .

Irish Agriculture and forestry employs 4,250 full-time workers who are highly skilled.  In addition 15,000 seasonal workers are employed in the Irish farming sector.  While the new directive doesn't apply, it is nonetheless interesting to compare the numbers involved with other countries. E.g. in Holland 80,000 workers are employed in Agriculture and horticulture and

"The EU directive for a single permit arrangement for non-EU workers has been recently adopted by the Parliament.  The directive will now go to the Council of Ministers.  While Ireland, together with the UK and Denmark, have excluded themselves from the provisions of the directive the continuing presence of non-Irish in the Irish workforce is still an important aspect.  This applies equally to workers in Irish farming and the agriculture sector generally.  The peak of work permits issued to non-Irish workers was reached in 2003 but this included countries that are now part of the European Union and who now have rights under EU to work without any permit in Ireland ", said Mr Dolan.

"Irish Agriculture and forestry employs 4,250 full-time workers who are highly skilled.  In addition 15,000 seasonal workers are employed in the Irish farming sector.  While the new directive doesn't apply, it is nonetheless interesting to compare the numbers involved with other countries; Holland , for instance, has 80,000 workers employed in Agriculture and horticulture. Across Europe the employment of seasonal workers from third countries is mainly confined to agriculture, horticulture and tourism and this is the target of the new directive. Insofar as the directive will bring about a more even playing pitch, it should lead to a competitive gain for Ireland and other countries that have a well developed set of rules for all workers; the employment of agricultural workers in the Irish agricultural sector is highly regulated and covered by statutory agreements. Although these agreements are currently under review as part of the Programme for Government, it is unlikely that there will by any major changes", he continued

"The Spanish agricultural sector employs somewhere in the region of 25,000 non-EU seasonal workers and Italy 's sector over 11,000.  Quite apart from the issue of workers' rights, the availability of lower paid worker with minimum rights is a distinct advantage. The latest figures for Ireland shows that, so far this year, of the now 1,119 work permits for non-EU workers, a mere 30 have been granted for agriculture. In addition, 38 were permits were renewed. Last year a total of 3672 permits were issued for all sectors for the full year and only 111 new permits were issued.  The lower figures represent a change in the structure whereby all workers from the other 26 Member States can now be employed without permit unlike the position in the past. No figures are available for the nationality of non-EU workers being employed at the moment in Irish agriculture but special arrangements exist for Romania , the main nationalities represented are India , Romania and United States . It is interesting to note that, so far this year, 22 new permits were issued to workers from New Zealand with 4 being renewed. The majority of these would be working in Agriculture and particularly the dairy industry", noted the ICMSA General Secretary.

"While changes are happening, it would be important that Ireland would adopt a pragmatic approach to allowing non-EU workers to take up employment in agriculture to fill in any gaps and that we do so while fully protecting the rights of workers.  This is no more than what is happening at the present time", he concluded.

 

Ends        19 May 2011.

 

Ciaran Dolan, 087-2322010

General Secretary, ICMSA.

 

Or

 

Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758

ICMSA Press Office