From Black Triangle’s Comrades at the LRC
Labour Representation Committee, 22nd June 2012.
Ed Miliband today made a speech on immigration, and has briefed the media that the last Labour government allowed into Britiain too many Eastern European migrants. He also pledged to “review immigrants’ access to benefits and ‘local connection’ rules for council house waiting lists”. Although softened with references to enforcing workplace rights (and opposing Tory attacks on them) the speech distracts from the key issues of jobs and housing and misdiagnoses the problem as one of migration, rather than economic, industrial and housing policy.
John McDonnell MP, LRC chair, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme (listen again from 2:55:00):
“I’m disappointed and saddened by the speech this morning. It sounds like a nuanced version of blaming the migrants for the jobs and housing crisis.
“The reality is it doesn’t address the real issues. And the real issue is one we’ve been dealing with for decades if not centuries. Employers will bring in migrant labour, undercut wages and the way that we’ve overcome that is by organising in trade unions. Our problem at the moment is that we’ve undermined our trade union rights over the last 30 years so that we have the worst trade union rights in Europe.
“In terms of our housing crisis; it hasn’t been caused by migrants, it’s been caused by the sell-off of council houses and the fact we haven’t built a council house in the last twenty years. We’ve got 700,000 properties empty
“When it comes down to it, people want a decent roof over their head, and a decent job with decent wages. And the reality is that we’ve not provided them with that.
“I’m the grandchild of an Irishman. We came we built the roads, we built the houses, we staffed the public services. If you look at every profession and every walk of life now at the top there are second or third generation migrants who have contributed so much. People appreciate that, so this is a false argument.
“Let me suggest what Ed Miliband should do: reintroduce trade union rights, establish a living wage not a minimum wage, start building council housing again, and start training people to take high-skilled jobs. It’s as simple as that.”
Ed Miliband did talk about better enforcement of the minimum wage – as only 7 employers have been prosecuted for breaches since it was introduced in 1998. John McDonnell has also tabled EDM 196 ‘Gangmaster Licensing Authority’ to defend the GLA against Tory cuts. Please ask your MP to support EDM 196.