Socialist Worker

Migrant Myths

Socialist Worker knocks down the lies in the right wing press about migrant workers 'swamping' Britain

Issue No. 1890

Myth 1 Migrants are 'benefit tourists'

Ask any pensioner, single parent or unemployed person if they would travel halfway across the world to get their meagre benefits. They struggle to get by. Migrants will be even worse off. Home secretary David Blunkett has ruled migrants will not be allowed any benefits unless they have been working continuously in Britain for 12 months. This will give employers a green light to blackmail migrant workers to accept rotten pay and conditions.

Bosses will be able to threaten to terminate contracts or sack people before the 12-month deadline, raising the prospect of being left destitute.

Myth 2 Migrants will take British jobs

The people taking 'British' jobs are the big businesses, and their government backers, who drive through the 'rationalisation', 'modernisation' and 'flexible working' which lead to job cuts.

The way to fight job cuts, and win decent pay and conditions, is for all workers, including 'migrants', to unite and fight these bosses and the government. Blunkett's measures will make that harder and will not save jobs.

Myth 3 Migrants are ripping off the NHS

There is no evidence at all behind the 'health tourism' scare story, according to the British Medical Association. Health minister John Hutton was forced to admit last year that the 'facts' about health tourism he was using came from the Tories and newspapers!

The real scandal, says the Royal College of Nursing, is how migrants are being used as 'slave labour' in the NHS. It describes how the NHS would collapse without migrant workers, who often suffer rank exploitation and racism.

There are around 120 million migrant workers across the world. They are not coming to Britain. Most are working in Africa, North, Central and South America, and Asia. Research from University College London suggests between 5,000 and 13,000 migrants are likely to come to Britain from the new countries joining the European Union. That is not a 'flood'.

There was similar hysteria about migrants from Spain and Portugal coming to Britain when they joined the EU. There were not 'floods' of people. A survey by the Czech government showed just 1.6 percent of people there might migrate, and most said they wanted to go to neighbouring Germany.

Yet the right wing press repeatedly whips up racist hysteria about 'millions' of Eastern Europeans and Roma Gypsies coming to Britain. There are no such articles about the 250,000 Australians living and working in Britain.

For all the facts and arguments to challenge the myths about migrants, refugees and asylum seekers go to the Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers website at and follow the very useful links from there

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Sat 28 Feb 2004, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1890
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