Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/793/17933

From The Socialist newspaper, 8 January 2014

Editorial from the Socialist, issue 793

Unite all workers to end bosses' race to the bottom

Much of the right-wing media whipped up hostility and alarm in the run up to the 1 January end of restrictions on entry to Britain for people from Romania and Bulgaria. Ninety Tory activists wrote to David Cameron demanding that he keep the restrictions, part of the pressure that led him to reaffirm measures reducing new immigrants' access to state benefits and welfare, and to promise further limits to net migration.

Tory justice minister Chris Grayling tried to divert the venom onto the Liberal Democrats: "David Cameron has said very clearly he'd like to see tougher rules in future, and we've always said we would have implemented tougher rules in the past, but we don't have a majority", he pleaded on Radio 4's Today programme.

This is one side of the government's stance - a 'tough on immigrants' face to placate the Tory right, media and to try to out-flank immigration-hostile Ukip so that it gains fewer Tory votes in May's elections.

The other side, however, is to aid the greed of the capitalists who are profiting hand over fist from cheaper migrant labour and want a plentiful supply to continue. Many of them have already been exploiting non-unionised eastern European migrants, including Romanians and Bulgarians, forcing them to suffer poverty pay and poor conditions.

The minimum wage is often ignored or outrageous 'deductions' made from it to pay for overcrowded 'accommodation' and other 'costs'. Official inspections are infrequent and incredibly only two employers have been prosecuted in four years for paying less than the minimum wage. In this way the bosses use migrant workers to push down wages for all workers in a 'race to the bottom' that drives workers into competition, causing division and antagonism.

Another pay-hitting tool of the bosses at present - used against both migrant and British workers - is the UK opt-out from the EU's Agency Workers Directive. The Directive gave agency workers entitlement to the same basic pay and conditions as permanent staff after 12 weeks, but the opt-out denies them this equality if they have a permanent contract with their agency.

Writing in the Independent on Sunday on 5 January, Labour leader Ed Miliband infuriated the CBI bosses' organisation by pledging to end this 'loophole' if Labour wins the next general election. He also proposes to increase fines for employers who breach minimum wage legislation, ban recruitment agencies from only targeting foreign workers, and stop firms paying less to workers who have accommodation tied to their job.

His remarks followed similar earlier ones made by Labour's shadow immigration minister, David Hanson.

Also shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper wrote on her blog: "We want to see action to stop immigration being abused and exploited as a source of cheap labour to undercut wages and jobs".

But Labour was content to aid the capitalist's thirst for cheaper foreign labour when it was last in power, and these statements of intent - while they could help a layer of workers - are deliberately nowhere near enough to seriously impede the bosses' race to the bottom. To start down the road of doing that, a major programme of job creation would be needed, combined with a substantially higher minimum wage with no exceptions and evasions.

Unions crucial

In addition, instead of Labour trying to divorce itself further from the trade unions and refusing to repeal the anti-trade union laws, it would be essential to recognise that the unions are crucial in enabling workers from all backgrounds to unite and fight for decent terms and conditions and improved pay across the board, in particular through collective bargaining rights.

An immediate rush of Romanian and Bulgarian workers into Britain in the first week of 2014 didn't materialise. As the EU commissioner for employment, social affairs and inclusion, László Andor, pointed out on New Year's Day: "Bulgarian and Romanian citizens have already been free to work without restrictions in 19 countries that were not applying transitional measures... since Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU in 2007.

As a result there are over three million people from Bulgaria and Romania already living in other Member States and it is unlikely that there will be any major increase following the ending of the final restrictions".

Tory MP Mark Reckless and Labour MP Keith Vaz went to Luton airport on 1 January to meet a flight from Romania, only to find that a quarter of the plane's seats were empty and most of its Romanian passengers were already living and working in the UK. It has also been reported that advance air bookings for the first three months of this year from Romania or Bulgaria to Britain are down compared with 2013.

This shows the falsity of the latest scaremongering predictions of Ukip and many Tories. But this won't deter them from continuing to try to use immigration as a divisive tool electorally.

Trade unionists and socialists must strongly oppose this, countering genuine fears of overstretched services and resources by fighting for decent housing, services and jobs for all.

Experience has shown that no oceans, fences, draconian border controls or other barriers can prevent people who are desperate for a better life from migrating. Only successful workers' struggles in their home countries to transform their prospects will diminish that motivation.

Likewise in Britain, workers' unity and struggle, with the trade unions reaching out to organise migrant workers alongside others, is vital to stop the capitalist class from lowering living standards for all workers, using pay inequality, racism and cuts in the process.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation £

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 8 January 2014:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Axe austerity in 2014

Another year of mass struggles beckons

Unite all workers to end bosses' race to the bottom

Truth revealed about Thatcher's war against the miners

Privatisation Act lies behind the A&E crisis

Greedy landlords create housing hell

Them & Us


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Stop cruel care cuts

Birmingham Labour 'consults' over £87 million cuts


International socialist news and analysis

South Africa: Numsa's bold and historic decision to cut ties with the ANC

Why capitalism mourned Mandela

US: Fight for $15 minimum wage heats up in Seattle


Socialist Party workplace news

CWU Royal Mail agreement: Defend our right to strike!

Hampshire Unison success shows potential for fightback

UPS workers' victory

Every job matters on London Underground

Two PCS strikes on both sides of New Year


Socialist Party comments and reviews

Is UK car building back in Top Gear?

Class injustice at Dickensian court

Time for a new workers' party

Energy Bills: Labour's 'supermarket special offer'


 

Home   |   The Socialist 8 January 2014   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Immigration:

triangleImmigration: For a system that meets the needs of the majority, not a rich elite

triangleBirmingham SE Socialist Party: The history of immigration

triangleNew Zealand mosque terror atrocity

triangleJavid's migrant 'emergency'

triangleThousands march against racism - now Corbyn and unions must take lead

Labour:

triangleCrisis in council services: Labour must fight or stand aside

triangleTrades council debates workers' political representation

triangleStarmer in full retreat over C-19 rents crisis

triangleSocial partnership is an attempt to shackle trade unions and prevent industrial action

Pay:

triangleTransport workers and passengers mustn't pay the price

triangleFurlough cut-off could force millions back to unsafe workplaces

triangleLeicester care workers face pay cut and worse conditions

Romania:

triangleHuge anti-government demos in Romania

triangleRomania: mass protests against corruption go on

Britain:

triangleBristol North Socialist Party: Crisis, capitalism and class division - a discussion on perspectives for Britain

Minimum wage:

triangleUniversal Basic Income: not a solution to insecurity and poverty under capitalism

Migrant workers:

triangle39 migrants found dead in Essex lorry container

Agency workers:

triangleScandalous conditions in food distribution centre

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

22/5/20

Coronavirus

Black and Asian Covid-19 deaths: an indictment of capitalist inequality

20/5/20

Coronavirus

Johnson's reckless 'back to school' plans threaten everyone's safety

20/5/20

Coronavirus

Confidence plummets in Tory strategy for Covid-19

20/5/20

Benefits

Universal Basic Income: not a solution to insecurity and poverty under capitalism

20/5/20

Covid

Furlough cut-off could force millions back to unsafe workplaces

20/5/20

Council

Crisis in council services: Labour must fight or stand aside

20/5/20

Rich

Rich get handouts - workers get pay cuts

19/5/20

Coronavirus

Transport workers and passengers mustn't pay the price

13/5/20

Coronavirus

Pandemic shortages caused by capitalist market - socialist planning is the alternative

13/5/20

Coronavirus

Tories put profit before lives - unions must stand firm on workplace safety

13/5/20

Coronavirus

Stay alert to bosses putting profit before safety

12/5/20

Coronavirus

Furlough scheme extended - workers need 100% of wages

11/5/20

Coronavirus

Dispatches from the front: bosses prepare fresh attacks on NHS

7/5/20

Welsh Government

Social partnership is an attempt to shackle trade unions and prevent industrial action

6/5/20

Homelessness

Homeless left on streets during pandemic

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 07748 534 891

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999