27th February 2020

What’s the difference between a worker and a migrant worker?

No Irish No Blacks No Dogs
No Irish No Blacks No Dogs
As the general election 2020 approaches, what issues will dominate the campaign? Will opportunist candidates use racism to win votes? Will there be attempts to target the Traveller Community or migrants, refugees and asylum seekers or to scapegoat them in relation to housing, health and other social problems?

United Against Racism member Niamh O’Malley, once an Irish emigrant having to go abroad for work asks the question:

What’s the difference between a worker and a migrant worker?

Well, what have they got in common?

They both want a better life for themselves and their families.  They’d like to have a comfortable home, in a safe environment, maybe some nice neighbours to share a beer with every once in a while.  

A job where they feel valued for their work.  Safe working conditions, fair treatment and enough income to cover the rent, the bills, and that occasional beer.  They both want to send their children to school with clothes on their bodies, shoes on their feet and books in their backpacks.  

They want to be able to say ‘Yes’ when their child asks for some little thing they spotted on a market stall; a little thing to you or me but such a special thing in the child’s world… They want to be able to say ‘Yes’ when their child needs 5 Euros to go on the school outing or 5 Dollars, or 5 Turkish Lira…

They want to live their lives free from oppression, abuse and fear.  Neither wants to fall into arrears on their mortgage, or have their electricity cut off.  Neither wants to lie in bed every night worrying about the next day. Every night. Every day.

All workers are mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers.  All migrant workers are mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers…

Migrant workers built America.  Migrant workers rebuilt Germany after WWII.  Migrant workers designed, erected and polished the Celtic Tiger who, after chewing them up spit them back out onto the streets of Europe and beyond.  

During an economic crisis migrant workers are blamed for unemployment when the reality is that unemployment causes migration.

There is no difference between workers and migrant workers.  We are all just people who want to live our lives the best way we can and provide the best future possible for our children.  

When I look down onto the face of my sleeping daughter and the hopes and dreams I have for her rush through me, my belly aches with uncertainty and anxiety.  And I know that at that very same moment there are mothers and fathers in Warsaw, Bucharest, Sarajevo, Beijing, Birmingham, New York, Baghdad, Kabul and Cork with the same ache.  

When it comes to feeding her children, it doesn’t matter to a worker in what currency she buys the food.

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