Showing posts with label migration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label migration. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Here to work, here to stay, here to fight !

 As the global crisis reduces living standards and conditions throughout the world the everyday reality for millions of people is to flee its effects by migration. It goes without saying that socialists are opposed to all borders and frontiers. Migration has always been a part of human history and population border controls are relatively new. Only in 1905 did the UK pass an Aliens Act, and only during the First World War were passports first introduced. Immigration controls are by their nature racist in that they always aim to exclude particular distinct groups and in doing so promotes racism. It causes massive human suffering and tragedies. The newspaper headlines that men and women would arduously travel thousands of miles, sometimes risking their lives, pay over every penny they have to the people-smugglers just to "milk" our benefits system hardly merits serious discussion. Immigration, for sure, generates problems and can strain the social services but it isn't the cause of the indigenous population's poverty.

The UK population density is 650 people per square mile, well below Japan (836), Belgium (889), the Netherlands (1259) and utterly dwarfed by places like Hong Kong or Singapore (18,000+). The issue of shortage of housing is a completely red herring. There is already a housing shortage and widespread homelessness, and there always has been, regardless of the population. This is due to housing being constructed largely for profit than for need. It is not profitable to build housing for people who can't afford it! And of course scarcity of housing is vital for the profitability of house building as it pushes prices up.

And what about jobs? The working class is global, so we can't just look at its effect in one country. Immigration is not a one-way system because an immigrant is an emigrant from somewhere else. Immigration cannot be assessed or addressed in terms of merely its impact directly on the host population. Workers in the host countries feel their wages are being devalued by immigrants but it is surely in their interests firstly to argue for full union membership and to fight for equal terms and conditions and also border controls that results in the situation where people can be made "illegal" and subjected to sweatshop conditions. Those who are criminalised in this way are forced to operate in working conditions well below legal requirements. If you threaten to start to organise against this, your employer can sack you and you have no recourse to unfair dismissal. And if you actually got anything organised, a quick call to immigration gets you jailed to await deportation.

People who say they want what's best for the working class are only thinking about the native host working class. When Algeria gained independence in 1962 - 900,000 white settlers moved back to France. Unemployment in Marseille rose to 20% within in months but was back down to 6% within a year and 4% in two years.

It is better to see immigration as a trend or contradiction developed though processes of globalisation. Any attempt to simply curtail those forces leads to a lot of hardship and draconian politics. In todays society we are told its acceptable that investment and goods can pass from poor to rich countries without burden, enriching capitalists but poor foreign people can't do likewise. Capital will move to areas where it can maximise profit. It's always done this and the capitalist of any nation or colour can live wherever they choose so, in practice. immigration is essentially a class issue. If international capital can cross borders, so too should labour.

Capital chooses when it needs one’s labor. The ruling class relies upon immigrant workers, legal and illegal, to fill low paid jobs that are not attractive to native workers, to serve as a reserve army of unemployed and underemployed workers to depress wages for the entire working class and to fill workforce shortages created by aging populations and declining native birth rates. Immigration controls currently are largely set out in the interests of businesses.  In 2011 the OECD calculate that by 2050 the ratio of working people to over 65s will be 2:1 to keep this ratio at its current level of around 4:1 Italy would need 2.2 million immigrants - Germany 3.4 million. But we should not talk about the capitalist economic benefits of immigration, because immigration can indeed have a negative economic impact. It should be about right to migrate and to live where we wish.

The people that benefit from the anti-refugee and anti-migrant campaigns are the same people that benefit from the real causes of bad housing, long hospital waiting-lists and declining education standards. It is the financiers and industrialists. They support running down public services and selling them off . They want to limit and reduce government spending. So they make scapegoats of migrants. They did the same thing in the 1900s when they blamed the Chinese, in the 20s and 30s when they blamed the Jews, in the 1970s when they blamed black and Asian people, and today, they blame asylum seekers and the influx of Eastern Europeans.

From a traditional working-class perspective, workers from another country are little different from female workers or younger and unskilled workers, or even workers from a different area of the same country. In the past, letting women into the workforce was questioned and challenged. They were accused of working for "pin-money" depriving the traditionally male provider of jobs by working for less pay. Younger workers were also accused of undermining pay since they would work for less since they had no family to support. Incomers from the countryside or another region of the country were also accused of stealing locals jobs. The point is, as socalists, we do not set the interests of one part of the working class against another. Socialists try to improve the lot of the working class as a whole. We fight against descrimination and pay differentials based on sex, age and nationality or race. We organise together to fight the bosses for better wages for all and better conditions for all. A united working class is in our own interest as opposed to one that is divided along national/gender/racial lines.

The socialist argument on immigration is always to get together with migrants to fight together for decent working conditions but we must go beyond the demand for the right to work or fair pay, but fight for the right to a decent life. We demand freedom from the market, not a free market.

The slogan is "workers of the world unite!", not "workers of the world unite unless you're a foreigner".

Sunday, March 04, 2012

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.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Driven to Suicide

Three immigrants facing deportation died after jumping from the 15th floor of a high-rise flat. Two men and a woman tied themselves together before making the 150ft suicide leap. Locals said they may have been Kosovans who faced being kicked out the country.

Socialist Courier can only regret the price they felt they had to pay for being victims of capitalism .“Illegal” remains a class-based description that politicians, through their two-faced cant and deceit, will continue to attach to asylum seekers entering the UK for “economic reasons” rather than “genuinely fleeing persecution”.

We are all asylum seekers.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

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 raised. At the beginning Sawicki carried 500 boxes a shift. Lately that number has doubled (i.e. several tonnes per day). When he and several colleagues complained to the shift manager they were told: "if you don't like it you can go home: there are others willing to take your place."

The next day he came to work wearing a shirt reading [in English] "We are picking 800. No more."

"We will defend ourselves. We are not slaves," adds Sawicki.

Now Poles, with the support of the unions, are fighting for the warehouse to treat them like their own workers.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

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 global warming," the eight-page report obtained by Reuters said.

The report said the EU needed to address the growing debate over Arctic territorial claims and access to new trade routes that challenge its ability to secure its trade and resource interests and may put pressure on relations with "key partners." It suggested the 27-nation bloc develop a specific Arctic policy "based on the evolving geo-strategy of the Arctic region, taking into account ... access to resources and the opening of new trade routes."

The study suggested the EU should do more to focus international attention on security risks related to climate change using the U.N. Security Council, the Group of Eight major industrialized powers and specialist U.N. bodies.

It cited a host of regional examples of the increased prospect of conflict caused by the reduction of arable land, water shortages, dwindling food and fish stocks, increased flooding and prolonged droughts which were already occurring.The east coasts of China and India, as well as the Caribbean region and Central America, face particularly severe economic damage from sea-level rise and increasing natural disasters, the report said.Loss of territory as coastlines recede and large areas are submerged would magnify disputes over land and maritime borders. "Europe must expect substantially increased migratory pressure," the report said, as millions of "environmental migrants" flee poverty, poor health and unemployment, risking increased conflicts in transit and destination areas.

Solana and EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said climate change could increase instability in failed or failing states, stoking tensions between ethnic and religious groups and political radicalization.Existing tensions over access to water in the Middle East were almost certain to intensify, "leading to further political instability with detrimental implications for Europe's energy security and other interests," the report said. It also saw additional potential for conflict in central Asia from an increasing shortage of water, vital for both agriculture and power generation, with an impact on EU strategic and economic interests.

War is indeed the natural condition of capitalism .

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Workers Have No Country

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 to blame your unemployment or wage level on foreign labour may be strong. But nevertheless such views are false. The blame lies elsewhere. In order to stay profitable, UK employers are demanding cheap labour. It makes good business sense to welcome cheap labour from overseas – you didn't have to pay for its education, and after you have exploited it for a lifetime, you still won’t have to pay its pension.

In many ways the government is only repeating at the national level what has been happening at employer level for many years with out-sourcing of staffing costs.

And while the free movement of labour is restricted, capital is of course expected to roam the globe looking out for ever better rates of exploitation, sniffing around the sweatshops for signs of harsher working conditions or longer hours. But if these chickens come home to roost – if little pockets of the third world's poor actually have the gumption or bravery to start popping up on our doorstep – then our local administrators of capitalism start to get a bit edgy.

As with so many issues, politicians are slowly realising that governments must simply accommodate to capitalism with regard to migration and accept it. They can only try to control it but if they are to have any hope of effectively securing borders and finding those who slip through they must expend vast sums as on ID cards and the like.

The World Socialist Movement didn't get its name for nothing. Unique amongst all political parties left and right we have no national axe to grind. We side with no particular state, no government, no currency. We have no time for nationalisation or privatisation, for border controls or for migration incentives. The world over, workers must do what they can individually and collectively to survive and resist capitalism. In many parts of the world that means escaping the tyranny of political terror or economic poverty. Politically however, workers should try and resist taking sides in the battles of the economic blocs who just happen to be named on the front of your passport. You must not blame another worker for your poverty. Instead we would argue that workers should recognise that – whether migrant or not, whether illegal or legal.
"... socialists must oppose nationalism in all its forms: not just refusing to espouse their creed, but defying the rituals, the anthem signing, flag saluting and other expressions of craven loyalty to the nation-state, that help enforce the idea of nation in our minds."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

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 to traffic people. Trafficking is when someone is taken to, or freely goes, from one place to another by means of deception, coercion or violence. Often, as in the case of many Czech workers in Scotland, their passports are confiscated, they have a debt to repay and, being unsure of their legal right to work, they are controlled by threats.

Dangerous housing and miserable pay are often the hallmarks of foreign workers’ lives in Scotland, according to Ian Tusker, assistant secretary of the Scottish Trade Union Congress .
“You could work all day for a pittance, basically... " Tusker said.

See a related article , Borders Crossed , in this month's Socialist Standard

Thursday, July 05, 2007

More migrants die at sea -and ignored

Further to an earlier story , an UN refugee agency official has said 210 illegal migrants were reported drowned or disappeared in the Strait of Sicily in June while attempting to cross from northern Africa into Europe. Migrants from northern and sub-Saharan Africa often attempt the treacherous journey in small, rickety boats after paying large sums to smugglers.

Paolo Artini, an official with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees office in Italy stated:-

“When it is a matter of saving lives at sea, a narrow interpretation of what constitutes a distress call, and any protracted discussion on search-and-rescue responsibilities should not be considered ethically acceptable,” .

He criticised “gaps in the legal framework concerning rescue at sea, and insufficient cooperation among states who often hold different views.”
Disputes have erupted recently over which country should take responsibility for migrants rescued in the international waters between Italy, Malta and Libya.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Bitter Price for Better Life

The Independent carries this story -

Spotted by a Maltese armed forces reconnaissance plane on Monday morning 80 nautical miles south of Malta, roughly halfway between the coast of Libya and the southernmost point of the EU. At around the same time, some of the 53 people on the boat, all of them from Eritrea, were begging their friends and relatives in Europe by satellite phone to help them, saying the boat's engine had stalled, that the sea was rising and that the boat risked being swamped. Calls were placed to Malta, towns in northern Italy and to London.
"They called me to say water was coming on board, the engine was broken, they wanted me to get people to help them," An Eritrean woman called Lepetan, living in the Italian city of Bologna said. "Nobody had come to help, they told me."

Yet it took nine hours for a fast offshore patrol vessel of the Maltese armed forces to reach the zone where the 10-metre-long boat had been logged , 4 hours after the last final phone call. It drew a blank.
"We continued the search until dark," reported Malta's armed forces chief, General Carmel Varsallo, "extending the zone a further 10km in the hope of finding something, but found nothing."

Why , wasn't it an emergency ?

"Imagine if there had been 53 white Europeans on that boat, what would have been done to rescue them," said Laura Boldrini, in the Rome office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. "It is clear discrimination, as if their lives don't have the same value."

Nameless people, a nameless boat, a horrible death .

At least , 10,000 people are believed to have drowned in the Mediterranean attempting to cross illegally into Europe. All fellow workers in search of a better life , trying to breach the barriers of Fortress Europe .