Work Stoppages In Great Britain Involving Migrant Workers



Work stoppages in Great Britain involving migrant workers




In the last few days, there has been news of British workers holding work stoppages in and around several enterprises, demanding that the existing or future jobs be attributed to British workers and not to workers of other nationalities, namely Portuguese or Italian.
In view of these worrying developments, the CGTP-IN:

  1. Declares that the deep cause for this situation is rooted in the strong increase of unemployment and in deteriorating living standards, as a result of neoliberal policies, aggravated by the current economic and financial crisis;
  2. Informs that, in addition to the social drama of unemployment, we see that in those companies new jobs are being created, with a perspective of foreign workers from European countries being hired, through agencies of temporary work, with a possibility of those workers earning lower wages and having imposed on them labour and social rights below what is legally established;
  3. Underlines that the hiring of those workers may take place in other EU countries, namely in Italy and Portugal, and this induces an added tension factor. And the fact that these foreign workers may be hired, despite originating from European states – working under socially aggravated and discriminatory conditions – creates the conditions for the far-right, in an opportunistic way, to make propaganda to the British workers and society at large that foreign labour is the cause for the British workers’ unemployment and social problems;
  4. Concludes that it is the entwining of unemployment’s reality with social dumping and the fact that workers may be recruited in other EU countries like Portugal, with unfair and deeply discriminatory conditions, that creates the present social unrest among British workers.

In this context, the CGTP-IN declares that:

  1. The free movement of workers within the European Union is a right of all workers which must be maintained and safeguarded;
  2. This right is supported by a fundamental principle which must be enforced and defended: equal rights in the host country. The violation of this principle, with social dumping linked to it, is the first cause of many social problems and of the rebirth of racism and xenophobia;
  3. The recent rulings of the European Court of Justice (Laval and Viking), which give legal cover to the violation of the principle of equal conditions in the host country, and consequently to social dumping, are not only an infringement of this principle but also lead to increased social dumping;
  4. Only the enforcement of equal treatment in the host country may prevent racism and xenophobia in the work places and protect democratic society.

Therefore, the CGTP-IN:
with all workers who fall victim to these xenophobic actions and with the British Trade Unions that demand the enforcement of the equal treatment principle;
that the governments and public entities in each EU country firmly apply the equal treatment principle, punish without contemplation all violations of unscrupulous companies, and adopt efficient measures to fight racist and xenophobic movements;
the European Commission, Council and Parliament to adopt legislative measures so that the equality principle is interpreted by the European Court of Justice without deviation from its substance;
that, in Portugal or abroad, it will continue to intervene, act and struggle in solidarity with our emigrants, so that the equal treatment principle is implemented and that the fight against all forms of discrimination is developed. Only through permanent trade union action and struggle for these objectives we will build paths to protect jobs, social cohesion, fight the action of backward and fascist social and political forces and assert the democratic society!

Lisbon, 4 February 2009

The Migrations Department