Socialist Worker

Britain's new plan to exploit migrant workers

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2270

The British government is at the heart of attempts to create a new system that would enable bosses to employ migrant workers on the wages and conditions of their country of origin.

Instead of attempting to move production abroad, corporations will be allowed to move workers from low paying economies to higher ones, but keep them on the lower rates of pay.

The EU has been negotiating a set of secretive bilateral and regional trade deals with much of the world.

It includes what are called “Mode 4” concessions in all of the deals.

Multinational firms will be able to offer cheap “onshore outsourcing”, using temporary labour and supply labour to other firms allowing them to offload employer responsibilities.

Corporations benefit from both sides of the deals. They get the investment opportunities and cheap labour.

Although these are EU deals, Britain is the main proponent of Mode 4 concessions.

For instance, the EU/India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has been under negotiation for four years.

The Indian government wants Mode 4 concessions. In addition, leaked documentation shows it is an 85 percent British deal.

While on one hand governments want to clamp down on immigration to foster racism, they also want to use low-paid workers to boost profits.

In Britain under the current points-based system, skilled workers are brought in and paid the minimum wage. This is then made up to a low industry norm with tax-free expenses and with no national insurance payable. The proposals will make that worse.

The TUC passed a motion against Mode 4 transfers.

RMT president Alex Gordon said, “This is potentially the greatest threat to collective bargaining and workers’ rights for many years.”

While European politics is in crisis the part of the project that is still on track is attempts to dismantle working conditions and remove all constraints on big business.

The union movement needs to campaign against this latest attack and for decent wages and conditions for all workers wherever they are from.

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Tue 20 Sep 2011, 18:04 BST
Issue No. 2270
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