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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 March, 2005, 14:24 GMT
NI migrants 'need to know rights'
Equality Commissioner Joan Harbison
Equality Commissioner Joan Harbison: "Lessons could be learned"
Migrant workers in Northern Ireland need to be made aware of their employment rights, according to the Equality Commission.

A conference aimed at making employers aware of their responsibilities towards foreign staff members is being held on Thursday.

More than 200 delegates are attending the event in Belfast.

Chief Equality Commissioner Dame Joan Harbison said there were important lessons to be learnt at the conference.

"The need for these people in our society and the enrichment they bring, not only in terms of their culture but also in terms of the economy, is a very important part of what we are learning today," she said.

Nurse Lily Aliyas, a migrant worker in Northern Ireland
Nurse Lily Ailyas says she has faced abuse and humiliation

"If a migrant worker is earning money then they are spending money and so are their families."

Lily Aliyas, who came to Northern Ireland to work as a nurse, says most people are tolerant.

However, she says she and others have had to deal with the problem.

"I have faced lots of abuse and humiliation outside of the workplace," she said.

"But I don't take it as racism because these things can happen not only here in Northern Ireland, but in any part of the world you can face these things in one way or another."

The conference has been organised by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland along with business diversity group Opportunity Now.

According to a recent survey by the Institute of Conflict Research, at least 20,000 migrants are working in Northern Ireland.

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