The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 19th October 2007
Supporting the rights of migrant
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THE KEY TO MIGRATION HARMONY
by Daphne Liddle
MIGRANT workers contribute around £6 billion a year to
the British economy according to a study published last week as a joint
work by the Treasury, Home Office and Department of Work and Pensions
for the Migration Impact Forum.
This is the Government decision-making forum that is considering
whether to remove restrictions on immigration from Bulgaria and Rumania.
The study focuses its attention on the recent high levels of
immigration from former socialist countries in Eastern Europe and
especially Poland and it stresses the benefits of the high skills and
willingness to work hard that these migrants bring.
It says that 574,000 migrants came to Britain to live long-term
in the year up to June 2006 and in the same period 385,000 left –
giving a net gain of 189,000, which is 28 per cent lower than the net
gain for the previous year.
The report also pointed out that in some areas the large inflow
of migrants has led to pressure on housing, health and education
services and to a rise in crime.
Suddenly, after years of painting migrants as scroungers and
spongers, the right-wing press has fallen in love with them – though
not enough to miss an opportunity to find some faults to beat them with.
Importing a skilled and willing workforce is good for the economy
and for profits. Where does this leave the existing workforce,
including those whose parents and grandparents arrived within the last
half century from Africa, Asia and the West Indies?
The survey finds that the arrival of thousands of Poles has had
little discernible impact on wage levels – in fact the average weekly
pay of migrant workers is £424 a week, compared to £395 for
workers born in Britain.
And the survey says the influx has had little impact on
The press is saying that compared to the Poles, workers born in
Britain are lazy and stupid. This is just not so. Workers in Britain
work the longest hours in Europe – driven by the highest debt levels.
If they lack skills it is not their fault that Britain’s education
system at all levels has suffered a thousand cuts since the Thatcher
years, while the Poles were benefiting from an education system created
When the press, on behalf of the ruling class, starts making this
sort of comparison it can only lead to the sort of resentment and
tensions that lead to the rising crime figures revealed in the study.
This is the sort of division the ruling class revels in – getting
workers to fight each other while they exploit them all.
Some of our trade unions have been doing sterling work targeting
migrant workers for recruitment, advising them of their rights and
defending their pay and conditions to prevent them being exploited.
Many of these migrant workers do not plan to settle in Britain
permanently; their aim is to make some money and then return to their
homes. This means that while they are in Britain they are prepared to
put up with cramped and overcrowded housing conditions that workers
born in Britain, who are trying to rear a family, cannot cope with.
The point is that both are being short changed. More decent homes
are needed for all at affordable rents – that means lots more council
housing, with security of tenure instead of the current property
The ruling class is also getting the benefit of skilled workers
it has not paid to educate. The people of Poland – and India, Nigeria
and dozens of other places around the globe – have paid to educate and
train these workers who are now making profits for bosses in Britain.
This is a serious form of neo-colonialist exploitation that will leave
these countries impoverished.
The answer must be closer links between trade unions around the
world and building worker solidarity so that workers, wherever they
come from, cannot be divided and played against each other to undermine
wages or conditions anywhere.
And the ruling class must, if it wants skilled workers, be made
to pay for their training and education – giving all workers, including
those born in Britain, the opportunity to develop their skills and find
well paid jobs.
Beating the bugs
DIRTY HOSPITALS have been in
the news again with reports that 90 patients in Maidstone and Tunbridge
Wells hospitals died between 2004 and 2006 from an outbreak of
Clostridium difficile – an infection that has taken over from MRSA as
the main danger to patients.
Evidence has been given to the Kent police over the NHS trust’s
lax infection controls; James Lee, the chair of the Maidstone and
Tunbridge Wells Hospital trust has been forced to resign. Lee claims
that the problem was financial constraints.
This was followed by press reports of at least 20 other hospitals
that were even dirtier than the two Kent hospitals – with
correspondingly high infection rates.
It is now a familiar refrain, with the press holding its hands up
in horror, calls to “bring back matrons” followed by Government
promises to do just that – and then nothing. It is as though they feel
that by mentioning the very name of the legendary femme formidable they
have invoked some great ancient goddess who will take care of
everything and nothing more needs to be done.
But they stubbornly refuse to do the one thing that would resolve
the problem quickly and efficiently – because that would mean reversing
the privatisation of hospital cleaning services. And our leaders of
government – New Labour, Tory and Liberal Democrat, are all devoted
apostles of the dogma of more privatisation at all costs. A matron
alone is no substitute for a well-trained team of dedicated cleaning
staff – employed by the hospital and accountable to it.
And it needs to be recognised that the sort of cleaning required
to minimise cross infections in a hospital is a specialised skill that
should be appropriately rewarded to attract and retain good staff. The
higher wages would more than pay for themselves by reducing infection
rates and all the extra costs involved – not to mention the human
James Lee went on to explain what he meant by financial
constraints. He said: “We had to be concerned about finance because
this trust has been struggling with a state that is pretty close to
bankruptcy. We knew the Treasury was pumping money into the NHS, but
quite frankly none of this seemed to be getting to the ‘coalface’.
“It has become clear to the members of my board that the NHS is
run on the basis of command-and-control. I personally have never
experienced such centralised or detailed control. I doubt whether it
can ever work.”
James Lee is naïve; he still imagines the NHS is being run
mainly for the benefit of the public when increasingly it is being run
as a mechanism to generate profits for private companies. Viewed on
these terms it is working better and better every year for them. That
is the ruling class aim and agenda.
The NHS is not yet totally lost to the profiteers. Those who
created it gave it a founding principle of a service for all, from the
cradle to the grave and free at the point of delivery. The people of
Britain still treasure that socialist concept to the extent that the
privatisers still fear to make a full frontal assault on it.
The workers of Britain need reminding that the founding
principles of the NHS are socialist ideas; that socialist ideas work
and are good for working people and that the ruling class does not want
us to have things that are good for us unless we pay for them so they
can make a profit. Socialist concepts within a bourgeois state will
always be under attack from the ruling class. The NHS was a concession
granted to a working class that was well organised had had just taken
part in defeating Hitler fascism; a powerful working class inspired by
the victories of the Red Army and by the rising living standards being
won by the Soviet working classes.
We must regain that level of organisation and determination to
defend the NHS – and to throw out the privatising bourgeois state that
threatens it so we can build real socialism.
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