Last week’s podcast got quite some interest, which is encouraging, I decided to carry on and get more asylum seekers to react to the new Right To Work rule, which has many restrictions and makes it virtually impossible for asylum seekers to find employment, and which helps exploitation to flourish and carry on.
This week I traveled to a different county, where one of the asylum seekers I know had organised a group of her fellow residents in the Direct Provision Centre for a group interview.
There were four of them, two women and two men.
Mrs A has arrived over a year ago and has still not been interviewed by the International Protection Office, she does not know when this will happen and told us that she loses sleep every night worrying and wondering when she will finally get an answer. She has worked, she agreed over the phone that she would be minding children for 150€/week, full time.
When she arrived for the job she was given many more tasks, apart from minding children she was also cleaning, washing and cooking, doing the general house work. At the end of the week her client would always find a reason why she did not deserve 150€ and would only pay 100€. Let it sink in, this lady was getting 20€ a day for being the housekeeper/babysitter.
Her reaction to the new rule is like most others: it is a way of saying to asylum seekers they will never work until they have their papers, but by that time, with the delays in the IPO, the asylum seekers have often not been able to use their skills, to get access to proper education and they will find it very hard to find work.
Ms A’s message to the government is: ‘please give us a chance to show you what we are capable of.’
Ms B is a marketeer. She studied marketing in her home country. She is a single mum and has a child that stayed behind and to whom she has to send money, and a son in Ireland. Ms B has been in Ireland for 4 years and is feeling stressed and depressed. The hostel she is staying in is far away from town, there is nothing to do, it is very difficult. Her son goes to the local Gaelscoil.
Ms B gets by here by cleaning houses. She was asked to clean some holiday homes and would get 20€ for cleaning three houses, taking her a full day.
The marketeer left a job where she was asked to mind children, but got abused by the client and was asked to perform much more than what she was hired for.
Ms B has been in Ireland for 4 years and is feeling stressed and depressed. The hostel she is staying in is far away from town, there is nothing to do, it is very difficult. Her son goes to the local Gaelscoil.
Mr X arrived in Ireland 10 years ago, he has done many odd jobs, the worst memory he has is of a car wash, where he worked six days a week, 9 to 10 hours a day, washing cars in the rain and the cold, and getting 100 to 120 € at the end of those six days. What he finds most disturbing is that the car wash is run by a fellow African man.
Mr X told us how not only women are coerced into prostitution, he said there are plenty of women who would gladly offer money in exchange for sex, and what do you do if you have nothing? He talks about how degrading and horrible it is.
Mr X would like to ask the minister of justice to come and take his place in Direct Provision, he doubts the minister would last for more that 2 days. Direct Provision breaks you, you snap.
Mr Y has arrived in Ireland nearly 1 year ago. He has not yet been asked for an interview and feels like his life is in limbo. He lives in Direct Provision with his wife and children. He is a proud family man but feels awful because he can’t provide for his family. Mr Y is convinced that the new rule means that the government really does not care about asylum seekers, he is worried that he may have to wait for years, just like many others. He says he sometimes wonders if it would have been better to stay behind and get killed, or even to commit suicide. Mr Y warns the government that leaving people in limbo will create anger, some people might resort to crime, and who would be to blame?
Mr Y has worked on farms, working from 9AM to 6 or 6:30PM, with no lunch or tea break. He would be so exhausted after one week’s work that he’d feel sick for two weeks after. He would be paid 40€ for a full day’s work without breaks.
It was a very emotional hour in the centre. Have a listen to the stories.
MASI is organising a protest this Thursday, Feb 8th at 1PM-2PM in Dublin at Leinster house, simultaneous protests are taking place in Galway and Cork (Daunt Square)