Eastern European migrants feel ostracised by employers

IPSWICH: Political debates about immigration have heightened racial tension between Eastern European workers and the established community, it has been claimed.

In the past year a growing number of complaints dealt with by the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE) have come from migrant workers from the former Eastern bloc countries who fear they are being overlooked by employers.

In the past year, the team at ISCRE has dealt with 158 complaints compared to 124 the previous year – with a large percentage of those coming from people from Poland, Romania and Hungary,

Jane Basham, chief executive said at ISCRE’s annual general meeting on Tuesday evening, said: “There is racial prejudice around the migrant worker issue because of the political debates about immigration and asylum seekers, coupled with the economic uncertainty.”

Workers become more fearful of newcomers during times of recession because they are concerned about competition for their job, according to Miss Basham. However, she explained that these fears are often unfounded.

“Statistics show that black and minority ethnic people are more likely to lose their jobs or not get a job in times of recession – we saw similar issues in the 90s.

“Some of the most vulnerable people within our society are most at risk. And we need to do something to stop this growing tension.”

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Chairman of the group, Hamil Clarke, added: “It is people coming from Eastern Europe that are most frequently discriminated against, and the reason there is so much tension in the community is because there are so many misconceptions.

“People think that things are easier for minority ethnic people, especially those from the Eastern Bloc.

“They think they are coming here and taking jobs and houses and no one but ISCRE is standing up and saying it is not true.

“Local authorities need to publicise the facts, they need to tell us how many immigrants they have housed and offer better training so we can stem some of these wrongly-held views.”

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