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    Undocumented workers stage protest in Brussels

    © Belga
    © Belga

    About 50 undocumented workers staged a protest on Monday morning from 10.30 to 12.30 outside the office of Brussels Prime Minister Rudi Vervoort to press demands for their situation to be regularised, according to the Brussels-Ixelles police. A delegation was received from 09.00 a.m. to 12.00 noon by representatives of the Office of the Prime Minister and that of Brussels Labour Minister Didier Gosuin.

    The demonstrators carried placards bearing the message “Only one solution: regularisation”. Speeches were made. Slogans such as “We’re fed up!” were chanted, and an undocumented worker read out the group’s demands. Tracks were distributed to passers-by and messages were brought to the attention of motorists. A group of domestic workers wore T-shirts calling for their situation to be regularised in recognition of the work they do.

    The demonstration was organised by a committee of migrant workers in Brussels and the Christian Workers Movement to question regional legislators on their positions on the regularisation of clandestine work ahead of next May’s elections.

    “We’ll try to see every political party, the office of every minister involved in the issue of labour,” explained Pietro Tosi of the MOC, charging that the State loses 27 million euros per year as a result of “social fraud by employers who exploit workers, women and young undocumented migrants.”

    “That’s what can be gained if a work permit is given to all these people in the Brussels Region,” added Tosi, calling for the application of the European Sanctions Directive, which protects undocumented workers by introducing a complaints mechanism.

    For three hours the delegation was able to explain its demands, present a gendered analysis of work by undocumented persons and give testimonies as examples, while the Government representatives discussed their 20-25 strategy.

    The Own Initiative Opinion of 16 June 2016 on economic migration and the employment of foreign workers, in which the Economic and Social Council recommended giving them access to social rights and protections, was also discussed. With the Sixth State Reform, the Brussels Government could have a more important role in issuing work permits.

    The delegation also felt that the 120 administrative fines and 40 warnings issued in 2018 against employers were insufficient.

    Andy Sanchez
    The Brussels Times