Page last updated at 14:56 GMT, Wednesday, 18 April 2012 15:56 UK

OFMDFM Committee

MLAs were urged to support changes to racial discrimination legislation to provide greater protection for ethnic minority workers, on 18 April 2012.

Patrick Yu of the Northern Ireland Committee for Ethnic Minorities (NICEM) explained to members of the OFMDFM committee that Philipino agency workers were particularly vulnerable.

He said that workers in nursing homes were on very low wages of around £6.50 to £7 an hour.

In the case of people employed via Philipino employment agencies "under the current law they have no protection whatsoever".

Mr Yu said NICEM was asking the OFMDFM committee to support its call for amendments to racial discrimination law.

Committee chairperson Mike Nesbitt asked if Mr Yu if he sensed "any great urgency in government to engage with you".

Mr Yu replied that "race is always at the bottom of the pecking order".

Following the witness session, Mr Nesbitt commented to the other members; "It's a bit embarrassing. He keeps coming back"

The chairperson observed that you could be receiving treatment in a hospital from two Philipino nurses who would have completely different employment rights "because one signed up in Manila and the other signed up in Liverpool".

The members agreed that they wanted to see a single piece of legislation to ensure equal protection for employees using UK and foreign agencies.

OFMDFM committee membership

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