Socialist Worker

Workers won’t benefit if Covid and racism drive out migrants

Reports have found that large numbers of migrants are leaving Britain. It’s all caused by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic—and a punishing immigration system, argues Sam Ord

Issue No. 2744

Fight the racist idea that migrants are leading to less jobs and lower wages

Fight the racist idea that migrants are leading to fewer jobs and lower wages (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic and the hostile environment is leading to large numbers of migrants leaving Britain.

A report published by the Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence, states that 1.3 million foreign born people living in Britain have emigrated.

The agency set up by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), compared data from the third quarter of 2019 to the same period of 2020.

The figures may not be wholly accurate.

The Migration Observatory project at Oxford university clarifies that the data collection systems have had to change in order to be safe during the pandemic.

This has massively affected the ability to monitor migration.

Madeleine Sumption from the Migration Observatory said the hardships of collecting data “has left us flying blind just as the UK is introducing a new immigration system.”

Driven

The combination of a racist points- based immigration system, as well as Brexit, have all contributed to migrants being driven out of Britain.

And the vulnerabilities of migrants have also increased due to the pandemic. Firstly, they are more likely to suffer financially as a result of Covid-19.

A large proportion of those leaving Britain are from Eastern Europe. Migrants from the European Union (EU) often work in the hospitality and construction sectors.

Do not value migrants just for their ‘productivity’
Do not value migrants just for their ‘productivity’
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Workers in these sectors are likely to experience job insecurity and job losses. It’s not surprising to hear that people in these situations are pushed to emigrate.

Contrary to the myth that migrants come to Britain to claim benefits, they come to work.

But waves of migrants leaving Britain presents a real problem for those in power considering that the economy rests heavily on their labour. Migrant workers make up a significant part of the workforce.

About 16 percent of people employed in Britain in September 2020 were born abroad.

At different points in history migrants were relied on to rebuild and to supplement an inadequate workforce.

Eastern Europeans were encouraged to migrate to Britain to work in food production at the beginning of the pandemic.

Profit 

Similarly in the period after the Second World War immigration was needed in order to rebuild.

Immigrants from the Caribbean at this time, known as the Windrush Generation were key.

Capitalism both relies on migrants but then uses them as scapegoats to divide opposition. This contradiction works out in different ways in different periods.

Far too often the right—and some on the left—have said migration cuts wages and puts up unemployment.

But around a million migrants have left and we still face soaring job losses and pay curbs.

Bosses measure a person’s worth based on their ability to “boost the economy”.

Reducing the argument to this reinforces the idea that they are useful only for profit-making.

Opposition to migration has to be wholly opposed. It is just another tactic that the ruling class uses in order to divert anger from its own crimes.


Nurses for vaccines—how governments are bartering with migrants

The Philippines has said it is prepared to allow thousands of health workers to take jobs in Britain and Germany in a desperate bid for more Covid-19 vaccines.

The country currently has one of the worst infection rates in Asia and as a result, has limited nurses immigrating to 5,000 a year.

This cap will be relaxed if Germany and Britain agree to the proposal.

The governments of Britain and Germany haven’t yet taken up the offer—but it shows how governments are bartering with people’s lives.

Jocelyn Andamo secretary general of the Filipino Nurses United said, “We are disgusted on how nurses and healthcare workers are being treated by the government as commodities or export products.”

The NHS already relies on 30,000 Filipino health workers to function as well as a further 140,000 migrants from other countries.

The health ministry claims that there has been an increase of 11,000 NHS workers this year.

Demand

But this increase has still struggled to match the demand created by the pandemic.

Austerity is the primary factor in not hiring a larger healthcare workforce.

The Tories have instead relied on volunteers, low wages and longer hours to cope with higher demand.

Britain has ordered more than 400 million doses of the vaccine.

Meanwhile, the Philippines hopes to receive 148 million doses, despite having a population that’s 40 million greater.

Currently Britain has managed to give over 18 million people the first dose of the vaccine. Yet the Philippines is just starting their vaccination process this week with jabs donated from China.

Competing nation states are currently using the vaccine as a valuable resource to try to strengthen their global dominance.

Vaccines and people shouldn’t be treated as products to swap and trade.Freedom of movement and public ownership of the vaccines are necessary to tackle these inequalities.


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