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Don’t blame newcomers

Capitalism is a system based on divide and rule, male versus female, young against old, employed pitted against unemployed and successive governments in Britain have played the race card (in Northern Ireland it was religion) or resorted to xenophobia to try to set workers against one another. The slogan of “British jobs for British workers” deflects from the possibility of solidarity and reflects a “divide and rule” situation in which fearful workers turn on “foreigners”. One section of the ruling class does not benefit from migrant workers and therefore does not want to bear the costs, while another section has been keen to defend the benefits of immigration. Political parties in Britain have once more begun to talk about immigration during this 2015 general election campaign. Unfortunately the debate is usually an ill-informed one and typically just a cover to introduce nationalist notions about the impact of immigration.
Migrant workers play a distinct role in capitalism as a “res…

Migrant workers rules

Nearly 37,000 foreign nationals are said to have settled in Scotland in 2012, with migrants from Poland the largest group. This is followed by nationals from India and Spain, where youth unemployment is on the rise. There are about 150 languages in use in Scotland, although many of these have only a few speakers. The General Register of Scotland estimates that 11,000 people from outside the UK now live in Dundee, while as many as 9,000 live in Perth and Kinross and a further 17,000 in Fife.

Tayside has been the cultivation of soft fruit and field vegetables, for many years and have had to depend on non-UK migrant workers. Their importance was highlighted in the summer of 2008 when a real shortfall in migrant workers meant that farms struggled to bring in certain harvests.

These are the rules that the Cameron government wish to remove or amend.

People coming to Scotland from an EU member state have every right to be here in the same way that  we have the right to go to their country o…

We are All One

Capitalism is as much to blame for the death of migrants as human traffickers. Were the  fortification of borders not a priority, the value of the service offered by migrant traffickers would plummet along with their ability to detrimentally affect individual fates.

The New York Times notes: "European Commission officials expressed sadness about the Lampedusa accident and blamed criminal syndicates and human smugglers for exploiting desperate people. They called for a crackdown on the smugglers”

Yet in 2011 the Guardian's reported on a  'left-to-die' boat in 2011, in which 61 migrants were left to slowly perish  at sea, despite distress calls being sounded and their vessel's position being made known to European authorities and NATO ships".

Human Rights Watch researcher Judith Sunderland explains: "'What we really don't see is a presumption of saving lives; what we get instead is every effort to shut down borders, said Sunderland, who pointed ou…

An injury to one is an injury to all

Ignorance leads to indifference. If somebody suffers and I don’t do anything to diminish his or her suffering, something is wrong with us. One can be raised in ignorance and educated that eliminates others’ suffering. Entire populations can be psychologically shaped this way, with those doing the shaping being the truest of the true believers. Such conditioned ignorance lays the foundation for indifference to the fate of others.

It is all too easy to blame immigrants for causing problems such as unemployment, bad housing or crime. Whether it is Eastern Europeans or Asians, a finger can always be pointed at “them” for making things worse for “us”. Some cannot contain their indignation that immigrants should try to come here at all and talk about foreigners undermining “our” culture. It is bulls**t. The problems facing working people and their families are not caused by immigration or immigrants and will not be solved by the Fortress Britain or a policy of "British Jobs for Britis…

Workers United

Scab is the number one worst thing one we can call a fellow worker, and we need to be very careful how we use it. It is the worst thing that can be said about a fellow worker, akin to "traitor." It does not mean non-union worker.

Poor workers from other countries are not scabs, they are our fellow workers. Only when they actually cross a picket line are they scabs. And when the strike is over, they stop being scabs and we need to get back to trying to organise them.

Migrant workers are our fellow workers, exploited by capitalists in both multinational corporations and in domestically-owned businesses. They are not crossing picket lines and we never can fall into divide and rule arguments advanced by those whose interests are served when we are divided by colour, by gender, by ability, by sexual preference, by country of birth. United we fight, divided we crawl!

Our enemies are not our fellow workers that are being exploited, our enemies are the ones that are destroying our …

Global Govanhill

Govanhill on the south side of Glasgow is home to some 15,000 has people from an estimated 42 different nationalities living within one square mile. Why Govanhill?  The availability of cheap, private-let housing is one practical reason. Also, immigration is self-perpetuating – the presence of an established community makes it more likely others will come and settle. Govanhill was at one time a mining village outside Glasgow. It started to expand significantly from 1837 with the foundation of the Govan Iron Works, known to this day, even though it is long gone, as Dixon’s Blazes. The Irish also began to arrive in Glasgow in large numbers at around this time, estimated at more than 1,000 people a week during 1848 – escaping the famine and seeking employment. In the 1960s, with the demolition of the Gorbals tenements, a second wave of Irish moved to Govanhill. At the end of the 19th century, heavy industry began to draw Jews from Poland and Lithuania. Significant immigration from the In…

China's class struggle

More than 1,000 furious migrant workers besieged a factory in Shanghai and held 18 Japanese and Chinese managers against their will for more than a day, after the workers were subjected to unequal regulations. 400 police freed the managers.

The workers of Japanese electronic appliance maker Shanghai Shinmei Electric staged a strike and besieged the factory for two days following the introduction of a new factory policy calling for heavy fines, demerits or immediate termination for workers who made a mistake.

A worker wrote via a microblog about the desperate situation management allegedly put them in. "We earn less than 2,000 yuan a month, but we could be subjected to fines of 50 to 100 yuan for arriving late or spending more than two minutes in the toilet,"

The National Bureau of Statistics last week revealed the country’s Gini coefficient – which measures income inequality. The official figure of 0.474 is a belated acknowledgment that China has a serious problem. On the …

Roma discrimination

A report, commissioned by Oxfam, says members of the large Roma community in Glasgow have been systematically threatened and lied to by government employees while long delays in payments of legitimate benefits have led to high levels of child poverty.

 Evidence of discrimination and prejudice against the most marginalised ethnic group in Europe is contained in the report written by the Govanhill Law Centre (GLC), which investigated how more than 60 Roma families living in the city were dealt with by the DWP and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The lawyers who carried out the investigation said the way many Roma were treated was contrary to the UK government’s legal obligations and amounted to unlawful and unequal treatment.

 As a result of delays in payments – up to three years in some cases – 36 per cent of low-paid Roma claimants faced destitution. These included one woman with three children and a baby less than one year old who was unlawfully evicted from her …

No worker is illegal

Phil Taylor, regional director of the UK Border Agency in Scotland and Northern Ireland, said:"We will not tolerate illegal working which threatens to damage our communities - it undercuts wages and exploits vulnerable workers."

Simple solution - make them legal. Cracking down on illegal immigration only leads to the creation of an underclass of undocumented migrants

It is all too easy to blame immigrants for causing or at least aggravating problems such as unemployment and low wages. The socialist response to this is simply to point out that poverty and social disruption are caused by capitalism. All those people seeking migration, whether legal or illegal, are simply obeying the imperative that they must try to find a place to work; and no amount of government restrictions will change that fact.

Sweet Pickings

David Leslie Fruits , a Perthshire fruit farm , has been ordered to pay more than £26,000 to two fruit pickers. During their time at the farm they lived among 200 workers in cramped metal cabins with no running water or lockers for personal belongings. Workers were also expected to drag a sledge half a mile, unpaid, before spending between 10-11 hours a day in fields picking fruit.

After working for the firm for a month, Mr Kowal and Mr Obieglo asked Mr Leslie to clarify what their rate of pay was after some workers received between £1 and £5 per hour.As a result, the men were threatened then sacked but were later reinstated when other workers, who relied on their translation abilities, said they would go on strike. When the pair presented a 145-name petition calling on Mr Leslie to pay fair wages and to give them the minimum wage, they were accused of stealing fruit, told to collect their belongings and escorted from the farm by police. Eventually the pair were taken to Perth bus sta…

Slums and Migrants

Govanhill sits between the Gorbals and Queens Park on the south side of Glasgow. It is a place of traditional tenements and has been home to various migrants for generations. The latest come from Eastern Europe's Roma community. It is estimated that about 2,000 to 3,000 have moved to this part of Glasgow.The BBC reports

A report by Oxfam into the Govanhill migrants found:

"On arrival, Roma without exception find themselves either without employment, or with a temporary 'position', and sharing small flats in conditions of extreme overcrowding and squalor. Having paid weekly 'fees' to 'gangmasters', Roma find they are unable to change their situation. Indeed, to break away from this exploitation puts them at extreme risk, not only of unemployment, but also homelessness and destitution in the absence of benefit entitlement."

EU migrants like the Roma are not entitled to housing benefits. They are also unlikely to satisfy the credit checks expected by…

We are not slaves

There are those who decry migrant workers because of the fact that capitalists use imported labour to lower wages and it canot be denied that inded some employers do use that tactic . But Socialist Courier has always said that the way to fight this is not by imposing immigration bans on workers from abroad but by engaging in class struggle here in the work places to stop this exploitation of foreign workers .

Gleaned from the Polish mainstream press and reported at the Anarkismo website is this story .

Radoslaw Sawicki came to Ireland seven months ago. Grafton recruitment agency offered him work carrying boxes of goods in Tesco's largest warehouse in Dublin. The wage: 9.52 euros per hour, or about 360 euros a week. Sawicki quickly realised that Irish people working in the same job, but employed by Tesco and not by the agency as the foreigners were, earn at least 200 euros a week more. Poles also did not receive bonuses or additions although their work quotas were continually rai…

Who owns the North Pole - Part 10 , and other climate change threats

Been a while that Socialist Courier reported on the competition to exploit the ever warming Arctic regions , the last time being here . Well , just because the problem isn't reported , it doesn't mean it has disappeared . Also raised in the article are the other potential causes of conflicts , like for instance possible "water wars" and other competition for resources

European Union leaders will receive a stark warning next week of potential conflict with Russia over energy resources at the North Pole as global warning melts the ice cap and aggravates international security threats. A report by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and the executive European Commission describes climate change as "a threat multiplier" that will exacerbate many existing tensions and heighten instability.

"A further dimension of competition for energy resources lies in potential conflict over resources in Polar regions which will become exploitable as a consequence of glo…

Keir Hardie on Migrant Labour

Socialist Courier has previously de-bunked the Keir Hardie myth of his anti-war credentials here and now it is time to dismiss him as a supporter of the international working class and expose his Scots racism .

James Keir Hardie in 1889 said said :-

"Dr. Johnson said God made Scotland for Scotchmen, and I would keep it so" .

Speaking of the Poles at Glengarnock, he said "their habits are very filthy, six or seven males occupying a one-roomed house, and having women to cook for them"

He suggested that the employment of foreigners by British employers should be prohibited, unless they were political exiles or had fled from religious persecution or if they came from countries where the wage rates were the same as in Britain.

Instead of directing his wrath at the capitalist class which exploits and takes advantage of the lack of working class unity , Hardie simply parrots the commonly held mis-conception that it is the poor unfortunate immigrant who is responsible for wage …

Workers Have No Country

From the editorial of December's Socialist Standard

Whether Polish plumbers, Portuguese hop-pickers or Chinese cockle-pickers, migrant labour in the UK is undoubtedly higher profile now than it has been for many decades. The focus groups and private polling used by the major parties are confirming immigration as the No 1 issue for voters at the moment.

In some parts of the UK the influx may well have resulted in increased unemployment for existing workers and appears to be putting a downward pressure on wages in some sectors.

It’s worth noting that there has been an enormous effort made to vilify, criminalise and erase racist language and ideas over the last few decades. World socialists have not opposed these developments but we have argued that racism – like other the so-called "hate" crimes – is usually fuelled and ignited by poverty and fear, and therefore cannot be removed until the cause is.

For workers fighting over crumbs in lower wage unskilled jobs, the temptation…

More Migrant Misery

A report criticises the denial of rights to those dealt with by private firms on behalf of the Immigration Service.

The Border and Immigration Agency's Complaints Audit Committee's report, for 2006/07, says investigations into misconduct complaints have been "poor".

Only 8% of complainants were interviewed and 89% of investigations were "neither balanced nor thorough".

As a result, 83% of replies were "indefensible".

Some 71% of misconduct complaints were not completed within time targets.

In 95% of cases, those investigating the complaints had been from the companies under investigation.

Of those misconduct complaints received, 19% were over criminal behaviour - up from 12% in 2005/06.

The report says serious misconduct complaints remain a source of "grave concern to us because of the risks of injury or death, wrongful arrest and civil liability arising from the arrest, detention and removal of failed asylum seekers".

One asylum seeker, Apol…

Slave Labour

There is much ado about those described as illegal immigrants working in the security industry and an alleged cover-up by the minister of the numbers . Much less is mentioned about that type of work being one of the lower paid and less rewarding occupations which migrants seem to end up in .

Nor has there been too much media coverage of the comments by Jack Dromey, deputy general secretary of the T&G Union about the conditions that some migrant workers in the UK are forced to work under could be likened to "a modern form of slave labour" .
"...there are all too many employers taking advantage of the vulnerability of the newly arrived...a depressing pattern of workers who are promised the move in their countries of origin, sometimes with such serious deception in terms of what actually happens when they arrive here in Britain that it would in statutory terms of international law be classed as trafficking".
He describes :-
"The awful reality all too often is nat…

Upstairs and Downstairs

This week, the socialite Tara Palmer-Tomkinson revealed that she had a "massive staff", mainly from Ukraine. "As I don't have a husband, I rather look forward to having people around me. I have half the Ukraine here every day. It's like the Russian army coming in to clean. I want to come back at night and feel like I'm in a five-star hotel," she said.

The British middle classes [sic] are looking for domestic help who can't easily pack up and leave, which means employing people from war-torn countries or from non-EU countries whose presence in Britain is dependent on their employment .

It is legal for a private householder to refuse to employ someone on the grounds of their colour, their nationality or their religion, and from our interviews with employers, it is clear that they do .

Sting's wife, Trudie Styler, was sued by her cook, Jane Martin, earlier this year.
Ms Martin claimed sexual discrimination after being forced to work 14-hour days while …

Scotland's Slaves

Some migrant workers in Scotland are being treated like "modern day slaves", according to campaigners being reported by the BBC . Promises of good accommodation and pay quickly disappear when they arrive in Scotland.

Two Polish workers told BBC Scotland that after two weeks of labour they actually owed the farmer money.

The Prague Post reports that the life many migrant workers find in Scotland is not what they had envisioned. They are frequently abused and coerced into accepting illegal working conditions, said Beth Herzfeld of Anti-Slavery International.
The most common form of abuse is debt-bondage. This is the illegal practice of paying an employer up-front for work, rent and food . Sometimes said, it takes workers six weeks to repay these debts, and then they are fired. This is a common “trick” employers use to leech money from vulnerable workers explains Paul Millar , the Czech honorary consul in Scotland .
According to Herzfeld, debt-bondage is one of the tactics used …