On International Migrants Day, EFFAT celebrates all migrant workers that allow some of its sectors to thrive. Over the last year, they have exposed their lives to provide essential services and kept vital sections of the economy going through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Migrants at the roots of Europe’s food supply
Migrant workers make up a significant proportion of those picking our fruits and vegetables as well as packing and processing our food. This year, seasonal agriculture workers have been under great strain. Often with poor information about the risks associated with COVID-19 and missing protective equipment, they have worked through an entire harvesting season, unable to respect social distance and living segregated in deplorable housing and overcrowded slums.
Migrant workers caring of European households
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, millions of domestic workers, a vast proportion of which are migrant, have demonstrated their commitment in providing household support despite often working without adequate personal protective equipment. They have been confronted with a daily unfair choice: their income over their health.
Migrant workers have been especially vulnerable during the COVID-19 crisis, as residence permits are often linked to employment status. Employers are taking advantage of this and forcing undocumented workers to accept exploitative conditions as they are not able to report abuse to the authorities without risk of detention or deportation.
Migrant workers’ enormous contribution to the EU society and economy is too often overlooked. On occasion of this International Migrants day, EFFAT urges EU Member States and European Institutions to:
- Reform the Dublin Regulation by making EU asylum policy effective and sustainable, establishing clear and mandatory mechanisms to relocate asylum-seekers and refugees ensuring high levels of protection. At the same time rescue at sea should be strengthen as it is a moral and legal obligation.
- Improve EU legal channels for labour migration including the seasonal workers’ directive, by ensuring that migrant workers, including undocumented ones, can benefit from full equal treatment and full access to employment rights despite their migration status.
- Consider regularising migrants with insecure or irregular status to reduce vulnerability, labour exploitation and social exclusion of undocumented workers.
- Repeal all discriminatory immigration practices adopted by different Member states while putting in place new and effective immigration policies aimed at ensuring true inclusion and greater social cohesion