Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/530/4040
Campaign to unionise migrant workers
HOW DO we recruit migrant workers into the trade unions? Their recruitment is a major challenge facing the unions today. If outside of the trade unions, the 5.4% of all UK employees who are migrant workers are a gift to the employers to lower wages and conditions for all of us.
An Usdaw member
This issue is being discussed at the conference of shop workers' union Usdaw on 27-30 April. The union executive's statement Organising Migrant Workers correctly rebuts the lies and dis-tortions peddled by the media.
Importantly, the statement also recognises that employers are using: "migrant workers as a cheap labour option" and that "agencies often undercut the permanent workforce by compelling temporary agency workers to work for lower pay, terms and conditions".
The answer advanced by Usdaw's leaders to this problem is to implement the EU's Agency Workers' Directive which would help to "prevent core terms and conditions being undercut".
The Socialist Party, while supporting these proposals, argued they never went far enough. The Labour Party promised support for this legislation before the last election but even these modest reforms were blocked by Brown's government. Will these measures bring migrant workers into the trade unions?
There are over two million retail workers not in unions, so for the unions to gain the confidence of low-paid workers and migrant workers then there must be a serious commitment to winning decent wages.
The unions should launch an extensive campaign of agitation to win retail workers to possible strike action and to ensure the bosses know the unions are really serious this time about fighting for a decent wage.
The companies we work for can afford it. Tesco has just announced $2.85 billion profit last year.
Three of the four largest unions, Usdaw, GMB and Unite (TGWU), all have agreements with the big four retailers. Socialist Party members demand that instead of the union leaders squabbling with each other, they should organise a joint national campaign to increase the wages for all retail workers. This method will show we fight for all workers including migrant workers.
In The Socialist 23 April 2008:
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party news and analysis
The Socialist Interview
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party review
International socialist news and analysis