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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 December 2007, 17:18 GMT
Workforce figures 'not accurate'
Martina Anderson
Martina Anderson said migrants should be classified as 'other'
Migrant Catholic workers should not be classified as Catholic when it comes to monitoring the Northern Ireland workforce, Sinn Fein has said.

Foyle MLA Martina Anderson said the system was intended to address discrimination and imbalances between nationalist and unionist communities.

She said counting migrants as Catholics gave a false impression of the number of nationalists in employment.

"They should be categorised as having a background of 'other'," she added.

"Employers do not perceive migrant workers as belonging to the local nationalist or unionist communities and this is artificially inflating the Catholic/nationalist representation in the workforce, the bulk of whom are from Catholic countries.

"The same situation has arisen within the internal tracking systems of the PSNI making it difficult to track the true numbers of Catholics/nationalist applying or being appointed locally."

Bob Collins, chief commissioner of the Equality Commission, said their figures were an accurate account of the returns given by all registered employers in Northern Ireland.

"The commission has already said that early and detailed consideration will be given as to whether the monitoring regulations need to be amended in the context of a more complex employment environment, and to whether the national origin of employees should be monitored," he said.

"Any changes in the regulations will require legislative change."

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