Racism, Discrimination and Poor Conditions Face Roma in the Workplace – Research Shows

First-time research, led by Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre in partnership with Maynooth University, and carried out by Roma peer researchers reveals the harsh reality of Roma employment in Ireland.

Dr Ciara Bradley, Maynooth University, presents the research findings.

“This research shows that many Roma face significant inequalities in the workplace and actions are needed within the private and public sector to stop racism, discrimination, and possible exploitation,” said Jenny Liston, Coordinator of Pavee Point’s Roma Programme who helped to co-ordinate the research project.

Dr Ciara Bradley, Lead Researcher with Maynooth University said, “Many Roma highlighted their poor working conditions – not being paid properly, precarious hours, and risking injury where safety protocols weren’t followed.”

A full house for the launch.

“Some Roma cannot access pre-employment supports, they cannot access additional supports that improve quality of life for example housing payments, Child Benefit or Community Employment schemes. This results in a lack of a safety net for many Roma – they must take whatever work is available.”

Panel discussion with Jenny Liston, Mary Brigid Collins of Pavee Point; Mairéad McDevitt of Migrants Rights Centre Ireland and Peer Researcher Rudolf Simonic.

Where interviewees were not identifiable as Roma, they found it easier to access and remain in employment, states the research.   However, where they were unable to hide their identity as Roma, they experienced significant racism and found it difficult to access or remain in employment – this impacted Roma women in particular.

“So, I always wear jeans or put my hair down and made myself look more not Roma, so that I can be treated equally on the interview and not be judged for my ethnicity,” said one Roma woman interviewee.

(LtoR Back) Alexandra Paszkowska, Dr Ciara Bradley, Monika Paszkowska, Miroslav Nistor, Maria Simonikova, Alice Holubova, Rudolf Simonic, Ladislav Koki, Jan Polyk, Roscommon, Aladar Lakatos, Kildare, Jana Kokyova, Vanessa Paszkowska, Pavee Point; Mary Hennessy, Co Kildare Leader Partnership and Jitka Lakatasova
Front (LtoR) Jenny Liston, Pavee Point; Patrick Monahan, Co Kildare Leader Partnership and Nicola Fogerty, Sicap Manager, Co Kildare Leader Partnership.

Vanessa Paszkowska, Roma peer researcher said “The research showed some improvements for young Roma who like me were born or raised in Ireland – however this wasn’t across the board. Where families experienced unemployment, poverty and racism and where educational opportunities could not be accessed there were limited opportunities for young people”.

The research makes a number of policy recommendations for targeted supports for Roma and recommendations for the workplace, including the Workplace Relation Inspectorate to conduct targeted inspections of certain sectors.

Pavee Point peer researcher Rudolf Simonic said: “This is the first time that research of this kind has taken place and it really shines a light on the problems facing Roma in the workplace. We hope these experiences can be considered in the promised Traveller and Roma Employment and Training Plan committed to in the Programme for Government”.

Full Research Report here.

Bridget Power, Traveller Foster Care and Bridget Kelly, National Traveller Women’s Forum.