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December 22, 2014 / politicsbitesize

A step in the right direction

immigrationImmigration. Immigration. Immigration. It seems that is all we have heard about from our political parties here in the UK recently, and with the lead up to the General Election well underway we can expect to hear more. Thus far, the rhetoric has mainly focussed on the need to cap immigration because of the feared drain it causes on our resources and its remarkable ability to soak up all of our jobs. This week, however, the Labour Party has shifted the debate around this issue somewhat by laying out its plans to ‘control immigration fairly.

At the Town Hall in Great Yarmouth (a seat that Labour are targeting in the next election), Ed Miliband declared that his party would stop cheap migrant workers replacing British staff by making it a criminal offence to undercut the pay or conditions of local workers. He promised to close a legal loophole that is currently used to exploit cheap foreign labour and signalled that his party would ensure that ‘a “clear discrepancy” between the terms and conditions of local and foreign staff could contribute to a prosecution’.

The Labour leader went as far as to claim that his party, ‘… are serving notice on employers who bring workers here under duress or on false terms and pay them significantly lower wages, with worse terms and conditions.’   What is refreshing here is that finally the blame is being laid at the feet of that which causes the tension inherent in the immigration issue: the Capitalist system itself.

Workers that come to this country don’t choose to work for less; they are made to by a corrupt system that treats people as unequal in its desperate race to the bottom. One way to restore this imbalance is to pay a living wage to all in employment regardless of nationality. If Labour’s measure were to be implemented then the undercutting of the wages of the already low-paid British workers would end and immigrants would be protected from exploitation and hostility. However, at the moment, that remains a big ‘if’.

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