Foreign child minders and cleaners 'most at risk of exploitation'
Foreign-national child minders and house cleaners are the workers most "at risk of exploitation" in Ireland, a new EU report has found.
A group representing migrants here has called for Ireland to take the finding "seriously" and said the country must work harder to "uphold the rights of all workers".
The investigation, by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), tracks exploitation of migrant workers in the European Union and has identified in which sectors exploitation is most prevalent.
It is the first time research has been conducted which explores all criminal forms of labour exploitation of workers moving within, or into, the EU.
The report found that in Ireland, the domestic work sector (known as 'activities of households as employers') topped the list, with workers in the accommodation and food service activities sector the next most at risk.
The report, which is being launched this morning, has been welcomed by the Migrants Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI), who say they are aware of women earning less than €3 an hour despite working up to 70 hours per week in Irish homes.
Pablo Rojas Coppari from the MRCI said immediate action must be taken to stop the exploitation of workers.
"These report findings tally with what we have seen in the past 14 years of working with migrants in Ireland. Domestic workers are extremely vulnerable to exploitation," he said.
"By the very nature of the job, domestic workers are isolated, and often unaware of their rights as workers. In addition, the vast majority are women, and many are undocumented; they are afraid to leave and afraid to go to the authorities."
He added stronger preventive measures to safeguard such workers are now required, as well as the introduction of new measures to facilitate the recording of crimes and access to compensation for those whose labour rights are violated.
Also commenting on the report was Jane Xavier, a former au pair, who said it was "particularly appalling" that those who work caring for children were being exploited.
"We need to ensure that domestic workers are protected from exploitation, and we need to change the way we think about domestic work. It's the work that allows all other work to be done," she said.