Home September 2008 The status of Romanian labour force in UK

The status of Romanian labour force in UK

by Ionela Flood

The Rt Honourable Gordon Brown, PC, MP
Prime Minister
10 Downing Street

Dear Prime Minister,

The Romanian community in the UK is aware of the efforts being made by specialist organisations to gather information and statistics in order to assist the UK Government make an informed and balanced decision regarding access to the UK labour market by Romanian citizens.

Romania has worked hard both in the run-up to its EU accession in 2007, and in the post accession period to strive for genuine integration at a European level. However, the current position of the UK government is to treat Romanian nationals differently from other EU citizens. Under its current ruling, Romanian citizens are only permitted to work in the UK in the agricultural and food industry sectors. We believe this measure is discriminatory as it denies Romanian citizens their basic human rights under EU law. We therefore urge the UK government to rescind this discriminatory regulation at the earliest date possible and restore to Romanian workers their legal right to mobility across EU borders.

In support of our petition to the UK government, we present the following arguments:
• It is estimated that some 10% of the Romanian population (around 2 million) currently work outside of the country, the bulk of this migration occurred in the early part of this decade. In 2008, there is statistical evidence that this migration has a cyclical outlook and several categories of Romanian nationals are already returning.
• For cultural, linguistic and community reasons, Romanians have preferred Mediterranean countries –eg: Italy and Spain to the countries of Northern Europe.
• Less than 30.000 Romanian nationals have applied for documents to confirm their right to work in the UK during 2007.
• Around 22.500 Romanians actually gained access to the UK’s labour market in 2007 through the various routes permitted under UK immigration legislation. Approximately 10% of them took seasonal agricultural work.
• The number of applications submitted to the UK Border Agency registers a decreasing trend.
• The number of the A2 nationals applying to work in the UK in the second quarter of 2008, has dropped to its lowest level when compared to the same period for the previous year (10.860 applications and registration certificates submitted in the first quarter of 2008 compared to 7.005 applications submitted during the second quarter of 2007).
• Romanians have filled vacancies that couldn’t be filled by British nationals in health, medicine, education, construction and agriculture.
• More than 2.300 Romanian nationals have enrolled in training programmes in the UK following the EU accession, while many others are studying at reputable universities throughout the UK.
• More than 70% Romanians in the UK are aged between 18 and 35 and make minor demands on health and education services.
• The employment rate among the Romanians in the UK is 94%, which is more than 10% higher than most other categories of migrant workers – and nearly 20% higher than the employment rate among the British nationals.
• The overwhelming majority of the Romanian nationals pay taxes and social contributions in the UK whereas an insignificant number have claimed any support from the UK public system.
• Restricting access to the labour market may drive some of the Romanians into the grey economy with negative consequences
• Reports from the Association of Chief Police Officers demonstrate that the existing evidence does not support theories of a large scale crime syndicates generated through migration.
• Romanian authorities are actively encouraging the return of Romanian migrants as its own economy prospers.
• The TUC’s Report on Vulnerable Employment concludes that the restrictive right to work makes exploitation more likely.

Information sources:
Hard Work, Hidden Lives. Report of the TUC Commission on Vulnerable Employment
Floodgates or turnstiles? Post-EU enlargement migration flows to (and from) the UK, Institute for Public Policy Research, April 2008

If you support our arguments and would like to see the status of Romanians in the UK labour market changed, please support our petition.

Thank you,

Ionela Flood,
Romanca Society
London, UK

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