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May 2, 2014 / politicsbitesize

Change the system

Defaced UKIPHere’s a radical proposal for you all: ALL employees should get the same wage for the same job. It shouldn’t matter if were been born in this country or whether you have entered the UK in search of work, if you are employed to do a job you should be entitled to a living wage.

Anyone thinking of voting for UKIP please be advised that it’s not the immigrants who demand low wages but the bosses who pay them that are at fault. People from the EU looking for work don’t come to undercut ‘British’ workers; rather it is the employer who pays the low wages to ‘foreigners’ who are choosing to cut the former out. However, the employers aren’t doing it for the sheer hell of it; there are reasons behind their behaviour.

As James Bloodworth from Left Foot Forward highlights, ‘anyone with any kind of socialist or social democratic background ought to understand why employers might happily opt for Eastern European workers over their British counterparts. British workers have higher wage expectations, a better understanding of their rights at work and are more likely to seek out trade union representation than migrant workers.’

Isn’t it time the system was changed so that this cannot happen anymore? The issue of migrant workers stealing ‘our’ jobs is just a straw man. The real problem is the neoliberal market’s incessant race to the bottom. So what can be done about the issue?

One choice is to educate migrant workers on their employment rights and to bring back the unions. Another is to bring in a living wage for ALL people who are employed in the UK, no matter what their nationality. The other is to clamp down on employers who take on migrant workers and pay them a pittance.

Instances of tagging anti-EU and anti-immigration posters put up by UKIP recently have made just this point (see main image). The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has also slammed the poster campaign, which suggests that immigrants force builders out of work. Its State of Trade survey revealed that ‘overall employment of builders was up five per cent in the first quarter of this year with employment of specialists up 29%.

So let us take the hard route of campaigning to change the system rather than the easy path of shunning migrant workers. After all, if everyone got paid the same wage for the same job then standards of employment would rise across the board.


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