Socialist Worker

Beware nationalism in jobs fight

Issue No. 2135

How our unions respond to job losses matters. Too often there is “disappointment” but little thought of action.

But at construction sites in Nottinghamshire and Kent there is a campaign for jobs. Some 400 workers protested outside a Nottinghamshire power station site on Monday.

That is for the good. What is less clear is why the unions have chosen to focus on the question of whether foreign workers are on the site.

The building bosses have always tried to play workers off against each other.

Using the cover of Gordon Brown’s poisonous “British jobs for British workers” rhetoric, the unions risk lining up with those who have no interest in workers’ rights. That the protest was backed by the Daily Express and Daily Star newspapers and a Tory MP sacked for racism should be a warning.

Construction unions have campaigned long and hard for fair and equal employment on sites. Hungarian and British construction workers on a site in the same area struck against the exploitation of migrant workers in March 2006.

A huge site in Milford Haven was shut down by an unofficial walkout against racism in 2007.

That is the tradition that will win jobs – not playing dangerous games with nationalism.

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What We Think
Tue 20 Jan 2009, 18:49 GMT
Issue No. 2135
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