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UK: Romanians want equal work rights

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The BBC is reporting that over 4,000 people have signed a petition calling for the same work rights for Romanian nationals in the United Kingdom as enjoyed by other Eastern European countries that have joined the European Union.

Currently, Romanians and Bulgarians are not allowed to work in the UK unless they come under a work related visa or work permit, even though Bulgaria and Romania are now members of the European union as of 01 January 2007.

While the eight other Eastern European nations that joined the EU in 2004 have unfettered access to the UK labor market, the government chose to impose restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian nationals. The decision came in response to unprecedented levels of immigration from the nations that joined in 2004.

The petition was organized by Cristina Irimie, a London-based editor of a weekly newspaper called Romani in UK.

"On our online petition we have gathered signatures from Romanians who live all over the world and they want this to be repeated in other EU countries which, like Britain, have not opened their labor market for Romanian nationals," she told the BBC.

"The petition was also signed by UK citizens and by other foreign nationals who live here, like Poles," she added.

A spokesperson for the UK Border Agency told the BBC that the government would let the EU know before the end of 2008 whether it intends to maintain the restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian workers. The government is waiting for advice from its Migration Advisory Committee that assists the government in formulating immigration strategy.