Fee is 'blocking' migrant workers

14-03-2005

Employers have called for changes to a government registration scheme to allow more migrant workers from poorer EU countries to take jobs in Scotland.

The Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland said two thirds of job vacancies were difficult to fill and many companies rely on migrant labour.

However, a �50 registration fee has become an obstacle to more workers coming from eastern Europe, it said.

The government said the fee was needed to ensure migrants paid income tax.

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Eastern European countries such as Poland, Lithuania and Slovakia joined the European Union in May last year.

About 8,000 workers came to Scotland last year from the former east European states.

People entering the UK from these states were allowed to work if they signed up to the registration scheme.

The idea was to help fill vacancies in areas such as agriculture, catering and construction, but deter people who simply wanted to claim benefits.

However, for many the �50 registration fee can be more than workers earn in a month in their home country.

Employment agencies claim that making these workers pay a registration fee is discriminatory and has become an obstacle to more workers coming.

The FSB said the government should reconsider the scheme as the predicted floods of workers from eastern Europe had not happened.

BBC News

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