Monday, December 24, 2012

Adieu Adriana - a seasonal Jersey tale...

Adriana interviewed shortly before leaving Jersey just before Xmas
A previous interview, recorded in May 2012, soon after her arrival was posted on this blog in June. Unfortunately, this machine won't let me re-post it here as intended...but you can refer to it there.

We have been following Adriana’s brief career in Jersey since she arrived from Romania in May seeking work and published a blog and interview on 13 June. 

Adriana has now left Jersey and returned to Romania. Her experience here was not a very happy one and we have not delved deeply into her private circumstance, in this posting.
Although thousands of shoe-boxes filled with toys and Xmas treats are sent from Jersey for the poor children of Romania each year – Adriana will be returning empty handed to her family.
She had no money for gifts but as a final insult, her over 20 kgs of baggage meant a hasty offloading of clothes and tin of sweets at Jersey airport (or find an impossible £120).
She is pleased to be heading back to snowy Bucharest.

Like the millions of migrant workers who trawl the world seeking any employment, Adriana had worked in Germany, Greece and Spain since the 1990s but never experienced such shortages of opportunities as in Jersey now. Of course it will get worse here and across the world and the new Jersey Population, Work and Housing controls, will make matters so much worse locally. Next year, the Jersey States will have yet another “population debate.”
The promised clampdown on the issuing or renewal of “licences”, the compilation and use of the residents “Register”, ID and “Residents” cards and fees, will act as a further discouragement to those seeking to settle here to work or just to trade.
Many in government want even more repressive controls on immigrants and greater punishments imposed on those who transgress the rules.

Blaming immigrants for society’s ills is nothing new or unique to this Island but the latent xenophobia that exists here, still unchecked by any anti-discrimination laws or regulations, already  makes life potentially impossible for so many who might otherwise find useful employment and a home here.

Unfortunately whilst realising that it is the immigrants who enable the Jersey economy to thrive, there is still a never ending inability to properly accommodate them, either in the “housing “or more fully integrated sense.
It is a great shame and loss because the varied talents and potential of so many keen workers coupled with their potential entrepreneurial ambitions and varied skills, are being so miserably overlooked or wasted. Besides which they are a potential conduit for new business and tourism links with other countries and locations.

Ironically, in an Island full of contradictions, Chief Minister Ian Gorst is himself a recent Tory accountant immigrant from Lancashire who moved to Jersey only after meeting his Jersey-born wife then training as a nurse in the UK.
No restrictions then on Mr and Mrs Gorst - but in an Island of nearly 100,000 people (of all ages) there are 10,000 working adults (immigrants often with children)) who do not even have the right to occupy or own proper, private housing accommodation (by virtue of the 1949 Housing Law and Regulations). The number of people without the “right to work” and to claim social security benefits (under the 5 years residence rule) is not currently known.
Yet another 20,000 adults who have full housing qualifications besides the right to work in Jersey do not even live in the Island.
Such is the perverse result of decades or discriminatory interference in the natural housing and employment markets – all in the name of giving some vague preference towards “Jersey born” people.

Soon all residents will have their details entered onto a central register with dubious data protection safeguards in place and be required to carry ID cards – a requirement unknown since wartime Occupation by the Nazis.
The recent “Plemont” debate afforded the nationalist and discriminatory lobby to vent many and extreme “anti-population increase” views whilst linking unlikely arms with environmentalists and liberals. Yet the one-vote defeat in favour of free market capitalist land development promoters exposed the fragility and uncertainly of Jersey’s whole political structures….

Such concerns are of little interest to Adriana and the thousands who have tried or will try to settle in Jersey in the near future. They seek only somewhere to earn a living, to provide for themselves and their families and live their lives in peace. It is a familiar tale with a sadly seasonal edge…

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