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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 March 2007, 06:56 GMT
'Learn Welsh too' migrants urged
The front page of the pack
The packs will be launched in Llanelli on Wednesday
Migrant workers are being urged to learn both Welsh and English to help them settle in Wales.

The advice comes from the Social Justice Minister Edwina Hart in her introduction to a new information pack called "A Welcome to Wales".

The packs - which are available in 19 languages, including Welsh and English - provide information on workers' rights, health and education.

Ms Hart said they would ensure migrants knew their rights and help them fit in.

There has been an increase in the number of migrant workers - particularly from eastern European states - to Wales since the enlargement of the European Union.

We would certainly encourage you to learn Welsh as well as English
Edwina Hart

Figures taken from the latest Accession Monitoring Report for May 2004 to September 2006, indicate there were 12,670 migrant workers registered in Wales.

The North Wales Race Equality Network, however, said the number could be up to 10 times higher.

The new brochures, which also cover housing, transport and community activities, will be launched at the Polish Welsh Mutual Association in Llanelli on Wednesday.

In the introduction to the pack, Ms Hart highlights the fact Wales has its own language.

It reads: "The Welsh language is spoken across the length and breadth of the country, and you will see publications and signs in both Welsh and English.

"We would certainly encourage you to learn Welsh as well as English, and this pack provides you with details of how you can learn and improve your knowledge of both languages which will help you settle in Wales."

She said the aim was to ensure migrant workers were aware of their rights and responsibilities.

"It's important that they are told about the laws and customs of Wales when they arrive to enable them to play a full and active role in their new communities," she said.

New environment

"It's equally important to ensure that they know their rights so that they are not exploited by unscrupulous employers or landlords.

"There are differences in culture, language and religion. We respect these differences, and believe that they play a positive role in building a society where we can all live together."

Aled Edwards, the Wales commissioner for the Commission for Racial Equality, said: "The reality is the people are here and the question is how do you help them become good active citizens in the UK and in Wales in particular.

"This is a welcoming pack - it's very much in the traditional way Wales does things."

Polish Consul General Janusz Wach, who will attend the launch, said the packs showed the Welsh authorities understood the challenge of settling in a "totally new environment".

They will be distributed by the Citizens Advice Bureaux, advice agencies, local authorities, libraries, employers, and trade unions. The information will also be available online.

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