New research has revealed significant inequalities faced by many Roma in the workplace in Ireland.
The first-time research was conducted by Roma peer researchers in partnership with Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre and Maynooth University.
The study highlighted the need for action to stop racism, discrimination, and possible exploitation in both private and public sectors.
Many Roma reported poor working conditions, such as not being paid properly, precarious hours, and being at risk of injury where safety protocols were not followed. Additionally, some Roma had limited access to pre-employment and other supports, resulting in a lack of safety net.
The study found that where interviewees were not identifiable as Roma, they found it easier to access and remain in employment, whereas those who were unable to hide their identity as Roma experienced significant racism and found it difficult to access or remain in employment. This impacted Roma women in particular.
The report further highlights the challenges faced by Roma in accessing and participating in employment, including racism and discrimination, language and literacy barriers, lack of access to necessary training or qualifications, and health issues caused by poor living and employment conditions.
Lack of appropriate transport and childcare support also featured as barriers for Roma, particularly for women.
Racism was prevalent in the workplace, with participants describing being targeted and treated differently from other employees.
Some participants also described extreme exploitation, such as significant delays in getting a PPS number, paying emergency tax for long periods, insecure employment, and zero-hour contracts.
The research emphasised the need for collaboration with Traveller organisations and organisations working with Roma to develop a comprehensive Traveller and Roma Employment, Training, and Enterprise Plan with clear targets, indicators, timelines, and allocated resources.
Additionally, the study recommends implementing ethnic equality monitoring across all relevant state departments, including the Department of Social Protection and the Department of Enterprise, Trade, and Employment.
New figures from the Irish Network Against Racism (INAR) also revealed racism at work was on the rise.
“Part of the reason is that many people don’t know what their rights are,” said Dr Lucy Michael, sociologist, and co-author of INAR’s annual report.
Research by the European Union Agencies for Fundamental Rights found that when it comes to racist incidents in the workplace, Ireland ranked as one of the worst Europe-wide with a rate of 33%, compared to an average of 24%.
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