Socialist Worker

Are foreign workers to blame for lack of jobs?

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2289

The editor of the right wing Spectator magazine has disgracefully claimed that foreign workers in coffee shops are the cause of youth unemployment.

Tory supporter Fraser Nelson wrote in the Telegraph newspaper that Pret A Manger workers are “almost exclusively immigrants”.

He added that “the government pays several million natives not to work”.

Disabilities minister Maria Miller joined the attack. “There isn’t a shortage of jobs,” she argued last Sunday. “What there can be is a lack of an appetite for some of the jobs that are available.”

This attack on foreign workers and people who rely on benefits is the basis of Tory ideology.

But are workers who get paid £6.40 an hour in central London really to blame for the crisis of unemployment?

The statistics say no. Unemployment is rising—but the number of people migrating to Britain is not.

The reality is that jobs are disappearing. Some 67,000 public sector jobs were lost to the cuts in the three months up to September alone.


And private firms keep laying off workers too. Retail chains La Senza, Barratts Shoes and Past Times have each just slashed hundreds of jobs.

Such jobs that are created are often part-time or short-term.

So while the lowest figure for unemployment in Britain stands at 2.68 million, this disregards the “under employed”—part time workers who want to work full time, and people on short term contracts.

Some four million people are not satisfactorily employed. The idea that this is the fault of young people making coffee is ludicrous.

A recent TUC employment trends study uses the lowest estimate for unemployment but still shows that there are an average of four people out of work for every vacancy.

And regional breakdown figures paint an even bleaker picture. In Lewisham, south London, there are more than 34 people needing work for every job vacancy. In Hartlepool there are some 22 people for each post.

The TUC study also shows that unemployment will hit three million this summer if it continues to climb at the current pace.

But it is not foreign workers who are to blame for this.

It is the bosses and politicians who are laying waste to jobs.

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Article information

Tue 7 Feb 2012, 18:06 GMT
Issue No. 2289
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