Letters– Personnel Today readers respond to the real asylum debateLetterof the weekWork can bring a welcome respite Icongratulate Personnel Today for launching this debate as asylum-seekers raisestrong feelings, and while the issues are complex, some want to see the wayforward as simple. As well as working in business, I am a volunteer at theMedical Foundation with people who have been tortured. Amajor concern is people who have already suffered greatly in their home countryare left wondering for months or years whether they will be returned to theirtorturers by the UK appeal system. While waiting for a decision, manyasylum-seekers are prevented from working legally. For many, work couldcontribute to their mental recovery.OneWest African man, who was allowed to work while his appeal made it way throughthe system, regularly worked a 60-hour week, despite back pain linked to historture being made worse by the work. He preferred to be busy rather than thinkabout what had happened to him and constantly worry about others back home.Idon’t recommend that anyone does things that aggravate a physical condition,but the example illustrates that work can provide more than a living.PaulBurnsWembley Park, LondonBritainshould be proud of supportTheOscar-winning documentary Into the Arms of Strangers should be compulsoryviewing for all who join in the debate about Britain’s attitude toasylum-seekers. It tells the story of the Kindertransport scheme where Britainadmitted several thousand Jewish children (including a number of my relations)as refugees from the Nazis. Is this opening the doors to scroungers or an actof selfless generosity? Theeconomic and cultural contributions made by that community in the 60 yearssince that time are well documented. It is also an episode in which Britain canjustifiably take some pride.StephenEngelhardPartner, Angel ProductionsLet’smake sure we keep it legalIhave no problem with a change in the law to allow asylum-seekers to work whiletheir cases are being considered by the immigration authorities, providing theincome is at least partly used to reduce any burden on the state. Thisshould also help reduce exploitation of asylum-seekers by unscrupulousemployers in the “grey economy” where they may work without properhealth and safety protection.However,I would strongly resist any move that encourages growth or gives any form oflegitimacy to a cross-border trade in people.Smugglingasylum-seekers is a high profit – low risk activity for the organisers. Theymostly operate outside the UK so few have been brought before our courts. Thetotal indifference of our EU neighbours is obvious and encourages the trade.Yes,let us consider the skills that asylum-seekers may bring, but I believe we canonly do so in the context of legal – not illegal – immigration.”DavidRichardsVia e-mailWeshould help – in genuine casesInresponse to your debate on asylum-seekers, I believe the Government may beinfluenced only by a refugee’s skills, qualifications and work experience whengranting asylum, especially where there is a particular skills shortage. Ido not feel this should be a criteria, as it could encourage falsification of qualificationsand experience. Consequently, each refugee will require stringent checks andthis country does not have the resources to carry this out effectively. Thereare illegal immigrants who give a bad name to the genuine refugees. I wouldlike to know, however, what additional checks would be put in place by theGovernment if work could be offered, as I feel we do not carry this outeffectively now. Whatextra resources will be required and how will all this be paid for? Where thereis a genuine case for asylum, I empathise, as I believe we should help thesepeople as much as possible.Nameand address suppliedOwnhouse must be put in orderThereare over a million people unemployed in this country and I feel strongly thatthe skills shortages that you mention should be tackled by Governmentinterventions now. This needs to be done by introducing policies to improveschool education, further education and skills training and by legislation tochange employers’ attitudes towards employing older people.Ratherthan expecting to employ people with existing skills, employers should beencouraged to invest in training programmes to fill skills shortages.Governmentpolicies stopping the “maintenance grant” and introducing fee-payingfor students have created a situation where school-leavers from working classhomes are prevented from attending university, simply because they can’t affordto pay for their courses or support themselves during a full-time course ofstudy. This causes a shortage of qualified graduates to fill highly skilledjobs.Inthis country we also have a lot of highly skilled people who are not consideredemployable, simply on the grounds of their age. The Government must introducelegislation to stop employers practising age discrimination, wasting thisvaluable resource.Alot of asylum-seekers are coming to this country with false passports andidentification papers which they have purchased from organised gangs of crooks.So how are employers to verify and validate the qualifications of people whocome here under such circumstances? SylviaGlanvilleReading, BerkshireLawmust wipe out abuse of trustIalready believe the Government has been very short sighted in implementing theIR35 for IT contractors as this has led to many working abroad, has providedless flexibility for employers and will encourage a further shortage of skills.TheGovernment’s response is to relax immigration rules to encourage people withthose exact skills to come and work in this country. This makes no sense. Andif we were to employ asylum-seekers/refugees, then the Asylum and ImmigrationAct will need to be changed to avoid employers breaking the law.ThisGovernment preaches an enterprise culture, yet it has introduced more and morered tape, crippling businesses by adding extra costs, burdens and headaches.Nameand address suppliedClearexample of red tape tangleYouare probably aware that the country as a whole faces a shortage of bus drivers.InOxford, we face this difficulty in a county with exceptionally low levels ofunemployment, but there are a number of asylum-seekers in the area, andrecently two successfully completed our selection process. Alloffers of employment are contingent on the DVLA granting the provisional PCVlicence which allows us to then teach people to drive buses. Both applicantswere rejected by the DVLA as they had no identity documents having fled theirhome country – Kosovo or one of the Balkan states, I believe. Theonly papers they had were from our own Immigration Dep-artment, stating thatthe person “claims to be” who they said they were. Withoutthe necessary documents they cannot be granted their licences and so cannottake up their positions with us. Iunderstand the importance of establishing identity for driving licencepurposes, but I feel this is a classic example of the red tape that is stoppingpeople, who are keen to contribute in an area of staff shortages, from gettinga job.LouisaWeeksPersonnel manager, The Oxford Bus Company Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. LettersOn 22 May 2001 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.