9th Sept 2008 - Sanctions against employers of Illegally Staying Third Country Nationals

Delivered by Derek Clark on 9 September 2008

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Speech to Employment Committee Brussels 9th Sept 2008 Debate: Sanctions against employers of Illegally Staying Third Country Nationals.

Mr President I am all in favour of dealing with illegal immigrant workers but not this way. It proposes that all employers in a chain can be held liable if there is just one illegal immigrant elsewhere in the chain, made clear in amendments 59 and 60. To give an example. An illegal worker is found picking fruit or veg in a field so the gang master and the farmer are liable for prosecution.

Well and good but it looks like the haulier who takes the produce away, the packager, the wholesaler and the shop or supermarket can also be held liable. Worse, if a shop is employing an illegal worker it means that the farmer at the bottom of the chain could be prosecuted, which is obviously unjust. You can not punish some one who has complied with the law for what has happened afterwards. It will turn employers into spies as they try to check on each other to stay clear. It will certainly ruin the relationships of trust which exist between the links in these chains. But this new legislation only applies to businesses.

Non profit organisations like charities and Non Government Organisations are to be exempt. But some NGOs help illegal immigrants and get an EU subsidy to do so. This is hypocrisy, it is a clear attack on employers and it will hit small businesses especially, they can not afford the staff to check it out, whereas a big business can. In the UK the Home Office admitted some time ago that there were hundreds, if not thousands, of illegal workers in their departments. How can you punish a government?- mind you, with our government it may not be a bad idea.

Among the amendments it states that it will be a criminal offence to employ an illegal worker. We come to the really crazy parts. Amendment 82 says that the illegal work should not invalidate a contract or employment relationship. How on earth could a contract continue if the employer is in jail, not to say the employment relationship? Now all of this is about third country nationals and you don't seem to have a problem with masses of workers milling around the EU.That is in spite of the ECJ rulings about the employment of workers which break the minimum wage requirements of several countries and which has made you all so angry.

This proposal is clearly all about EU protectionism. Finally, it says that there shall be no sanctions against those who provide assistance to third country nationals for facilitating their unauthorised presence. So the people traffickers will get away with it. These are the very people you should be going after, those who forge passports to get people in, or those who carry illegals in the back of a lorry. You should be trying to stop illegal immigrants at the point of entry.

This whole proposal is a mess, it should be discarded.

Derek Clark MEP Brussels 9th Sept 2008