Tory plans for new immigration controls are a racist attempt to blame migrant workers for unemployment and low pay. But it is capitalism that is responsible for the crisis of jobs and housing. We say: make the bosses pay!
The government’s new immigration policy shows yet again the degeneration of the Tory Party. Once the world’s most reliable representative of capitalism, it is now a party engulfed by a little-Englander mentality.
In aiming to satisfy the most fanatical xenophobic elements that form the base of the Tory party, by ‘taking back control’, this policy shift will have disastrous consequences for workers – and for British capitalism as a whole.
This new immigration policy marks a significant change, seeking to reduce the number of low-skilled workers coming to the UK from Europe, and replacing them (the Tories claim) with high-paid and skilled migrant workers.
Migrant workers coming to Britain now need 70 points to be able to apply for a work visa with any hope of success. This means having: a job offer from an approved sponsor; the required level of skills appropriate for the job; English speaking skills; and an annual salary of at least £23,040–£25,600. This minimum level can fall but only to £20,480 per year, and only if the job is in an area deemed to have critical staff shortages.
Just to make things harder, the restrictions on getting a work permit also include the following: a visa application fee; application fees for dependants; annual NHS fees (again one each person); a residence card permit fee for each family member (to be renewed every year, of course); an English language test fee; savings of at least 945; work sponsorship certificate fees – the list goes on. In the case of a change or loss of job, all these steps (and fees) have to be repeated.
Such a dramatic shift over immigration arrangements will undoubtedly be disastrous for workers in Britain – both migrant and native – who will feel the brunt of this attack. But some bosses are also concerned.
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls told the Evening Standard that: “You won’t see table service at some events if these skills are not available. Silver service tables could disappear.”
This concern is utterly hypocritical and has nothing to do with the plight of migrants. In sectors like ‘silver service’, workers serving upper-class diners are regularly paid below minimum wage when deductions for uniforms, transport etc. are made.
In order to make up for profits lost due to the Tories’ policy, it is clear that many businesses will either move their operations abroad, or remain and squeeze more out of an already strained workforce. The result therefore places the working class between a rock and a hard place: the prospect of unemployment, on the one hand, and the intensification of labour, on the other.
This move also brings to light the methods used to conceal the economic reality of Tory Britain. Despite being told for the last few years that unemployment stands at its lowest level since the 1970s, Patel now reassures us there are nearly 8.5 million ‘economically inactive’ Brits ready and waiting to fill any shortages.
In reality, 88 per cent of the economically inactive Patel refers to are students; the long-term sick and disabled; the retired; and those looking after elderly family members. The rest include those who have come to believe that steady employment is a pipe-dream, due to shattered local economies across the country.
Additionally, a further million people are currently stuck working multiple jobs on zero-hour contracts. Is it these people the government refers to as economically inactive? Perhaps they are expected to pick fruit in their sleep!
We should be clear: it is the bosses who are responsible for paying low-skilled workers starvation wages in order to boost their profits. The backwardness of British capitalism – based on low pay and low productivity – has fueled this demand for cheap labour. In fact, the cheaper the better, for the capitalists. Migrant labour has been used to plug this demand.
Clamping down on migration will not quench the thirst of the bosses for cheap labour. Illegalising immigration will not stop it taking place. It will just create a class of illegal immigrants who can be even more ruthlessly exploited by the bosses.
The Tories propose to replace migrant labour with students, old people, and anyone else they can find. That is the reality of the “jobs bonanza” the Tories are talking about. The aim of the government’s policy is clear: they are fanning the flames of racism in an effort to further drive a wedge between British and foreign workers.
Workers of the world – unite!
We need to struggle against all divisions based on race, colour and nationality. It is the ruling class that is responsible for pitting workers against one another, for the sake of profit and greed. And it is the united organisation and action of all workers – regardless of ethnicity, nationality, or background – that has the potential to overthrow this decrepit system.
The trade unions must energetically take up the task of organising migrant workers into the labour movement. By struggling for high wages for all, collective bargaining agreements, and the same rights for migrants as non-migrants, we can combat the bosses attempts to use racist attacks to divide our class.
The money to provide jobs, housing, schools, hospitals, etc. for everyone in the world exists – but it sits in private hands. We have the resources to provide a decent living standard for all, but these are concentrated in the clutches of a tiny handful of billionaires and multinational corporations.
Only on the basis of a socialist economy, planned and managed by the working class itself, can work in all sectors be shared equally, eliminating the burden of overwork, and providing decent employment and a fair wage for all.