The Working Roma Project
● Addressing the challenges of immigration and work
Immigrants tend to accept jobs not normally taken up by locals. These jobs tend to range from cleaning to the hospitality industry and construction. Hotels and restaurants employ more than 80 per cent of foreigners. Proper education is important, and these workers need to know their rights to avoid being exploited. Culture, especially food, music and dress, as well as proper support and training could help immigrant workers face the challenges of social exclusion.
These are the most salient points that have been emerging from several workshops and events organized as part of the Working Roma Project, a project funded by the European Union with the main objective being to provide new tools based on the exchange of the best practices to prevent intolerance in the labour market towards Roma people and other minorities.
In Malta, the two-year project which started in 2016 and came to an end recently, was coordinated by FOPSIM, the Foundation for the Promotion of Social Inclusion and was held in part- nership with many organizations from Spain, Bulgaria, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, Romania, Czech Republic and Greece.
“Many immigrant workers are excluded from labour and safety protections that local employees and workers often take for granted, because they are disproportionately employed in positions that are exempt from many labour law protections, such as, for example, home health aides or domestic workers. Or else because they have no recourse when employers create unsafe work environments or do not pay wages as agreed. Many work for less than the minimum wage and endure illegal employment practices. Moreover, while more highly qualified international professionals tend to find better-paid employment, immigrant workers with the same level of education tend to earn less, regardless of their legal status,” explained Laura Trevisan who coordinated the project in Malta on behalf of FOPSIM.
The workshops and events organised as part of this EU project in fact focused on workforce diversity and social inclusion during which participants dis- cussed challenges and opportunities of immigration and work and sought solutions on how to combat and prevent racism and xenophobia in the workplace,” Ms Trevisan added.
“Our training sessions saw a great turn out mostly because these were led by leading employment professionals from different organisations in Malta, including public companies and civic society that came up with interesting suggestions and topics on the matter. We mostly sought suggestions on how we can promote access to vocational training to minorities at risk of social exclusion and how we can improve understanding of the cultural and social context of the Roma community and other vulnerable groups,” she explained.
Referring to the outcomes of the project, Ms Trevisan noted that the project also promoted an Ethic Code under the form of a Decalogue which points out 10 best principles to avoid discrimination and non-tolerant behaviours at the workplace. It also promoted a Manual of Good Practice, summarizing good practices in the integration of Roma people and other minorities in the labour market and the compilation of 20 recommendations to improve European policy for integration of Roma people in the labour market.
“These outcomes have now been delivered to the Employment and Social Affairs Commission of European Parliament,” Ms Trevisan said.
As the coordinator of this project, FOPSIM provided expertise to the project on the target group, disseminated results among stakeholders, sought the participation of experts and professionals and provided the expertise for the exchange of best practices and knowledge. For more information on the project, contact Laura Trevisan on firstname.lastname@example.org