Author: Daniël Verhoeven
The asylum seekers from Pakistan and the Magreb that have started a hunger strike on 15 december 2010 refused to stop their hungerstrike, demanding a workpermit C, though they received an orange card B after 26 days of strike. Most of them are staying for years in Belgium now, and they want the possibility to look for a job of their choice like everybody else. They claim there are plenty of jobs for them waiting.
Video by De Wereld Morgen
Today is the 57th day the 25 North African and Pakistani hunger strikers in the Karthuizersstraat a bitter struggle to get work permits. The hunger strikers demand a work permit C.
“With that work permit C the hunger strikers can apply for a job like you and me,” says Father Daniel Alliet who supports them from day one.
“Then they become free people, free to work freely. Now the hunger strikers only have an orange card B, a medical card that doesn’t give them the fully chances on the labor market. With an orange card that you can not really find decent work. The result is that they are exploited on all sides. They are treated like slaves. I’ve heard enough stories of these abuses, including in restaurants. I’ve known of people without papers who have worked full time but really only were paid half-time. The boss always threatened to dismiss them if they refused to work on all holidays. It’s just not human anymore, because they really want to work and live like us. Especially given the financial crisis, it is important to have the necessary permits. The hunger strikers are now happily enjoying support from the CPAS. They tell me that they want to give back CPAS support when they get a work permit C.”
According to Alliet there really enough work in Brussels and Flanders. “There are tens of thousands of jobs in Flanders that are not filled. In Brussels, there is high unemployment, but there are also many jobs that are not filled. There are so many vacancies that I really find it appalling that these people get so few opportunities. Hence we really argue that they would get the necessary permits to proceed and apply for work.”
According to Daniel Alliet these people really make much in efforts to integrate. “Therefore, some followed have the necessary training and studies. Many are staying here for 10 or 20 yearts in Belgium without the necessary work permit. For decades they live in uncertainty. It’s really outrageous.”
According to their lawyer Alexis Desoive the state of their health is bad. “The hunger strikers get intestinal problems. I really fear that the damage will be irreparable. I am very worried. I hope for a quick solution. Several hunger strikers have been taken to hospitals. If there is not a quick solution, I fear that there will be death at the end.”
More about the different Work Permits in Belgium