30 January 2009

"British jobs for British workers" - wrong in principle, unenforceable in practice... but we're gonna see a lot more of it

Looks like things are getting ugly at UK oil refineries... wildcat strikes breaking out everywhere.

That's all we need.... a repeat of 2000's fuel protest.

The first strike broke out at Lindsey refinery in Lincolnshire when Total gave a construction contract to an Italian firm, which brought in its own workers to do the job.

This outraged local construction workers suffering from rising unemployment, who have brought up a promise made repeatedly by Gordon Brown & co. in party conference speeches: "British jobs for British workers." Seeing no evidence of such a policy being put into practice, they've downed tools.

But of course, in a single EU labour market, "British jobs for British workers" is pure bullshit anyway, as the government well knows. Total is completely within its rights to employ Italians, Poles, Belgians... anyone in the EU (except Bulgarians and Romanians, who are not allowed free movement of labour within the EU, despite having been members for two years. Many of the other new joiners of 2004 are also still subject to labour movement restrictions in certain EU countries).

So, unless we leave the EU, there's no way of restricting other EU nationals from coming to work here. That's what a "single labour market" means.

I'd also argue that "jobs for Brits" is wrong in principle. The logical extension of that policy is that we should send all foreign workers home (and they should send our boys and girls home as a quid pro quo). There is a party in the UK that supports that policy: it's called the BNP.

Of course, rising unemployment is a bloody disaster for many workers and families. But the nationality of the person that's unemployed doesn't affect how much of a disaster it is. What we need is an economic system that generates enough jobs for all EU citizens (indeed, all global citizens). Not petty small-minded nationalism.

But I guess, if New Labour wants to base its electoral appeal on small-minded nationalism, it shouldn't be surprised when the whole thing turns round and bites it in the ass.

Looking forward to fuel shortages soon...

1 comment:

Van Patten said...

The problem here is that the economic downturn is going to expose the severe problems of the government's policy (and it was practised by the Major administration to a lesser degree)of relying on unlimited migration as a driver of economic growth. This government stands for nothing other than, at least now, the retention of power, and any soundbite that they feel will win votes is dredged up. Whatever my opinion of Mandelson, at least I had some respect for him pointing out the inherent unviablity of the 'British jobs for British workers' policy, as you do here.

Your comment regarding 'an economic system' which ensures enough jobs for all would be better if you perhaps expanded on how that might be achieved beyond some kind of rerun of the USSR?

Fuel shortages and power outages are likely to be acute as the Uk's generating capacity is shut down thanks to 'Climate Change' directives emanating from the EU. Indeed the current crises engulfing Greece, Spain , Portugal and Ireland (looking to spread to Slovenia, Slovakia and Malta soon) bring into question the future of the Euro and indeed the inherent viability of the EU itself, beyond it's original purpose (as voted for on the only occasion we were allowed to vote on it, 34 years ago) - A common market. The drachma seems certain to be reintroduced by 2011, the escudo by 2012. As you say, to paraphrase Bachman Turner Overdrive:

'You ain't seen nothing yet!'