07 June 2011

Imigrant Workers in the USA and UK

The US Senate has reached a deal that could see the approval of a stalled bill that would grant millions of illegal immigrants the right to stay. One of the Senate bill's key provisions is the opening of a path to eventual citizenship for about 11 million illegal immigrants.

The House bill would criminalise illegal immigrants and create a vast fence on the southern US border. It has sparked huge street protests from immigrant groups and put the issue high on the agenda for November's mid-term elections. The Latinos are the fastest growing minority and George Bush is keen to win their votes.

A similar debate is also raging in the UK regarding the influx of mainly Polish workers into the UK, along with Slovaks due to the enlargement of the European Union (EU) in 2004. This meant that the 8 Accession countries could come to the UK without visa's to work. Most European countries imposed a ban on these workers entering there job market without visas, but the UK saw this opportunity for labour migration and welcomed it with open arms.

The result was over 250,000 Polish workers coming to the UK over a two year period. This new, cheap, hard working labour is now propping up certain industries such as construction. The Anti-immigrant UK Independence Party leader hired Polish builders to work on his country mansion, the hypocrisy of some people beggars believe!! But he must confirm what a recent Joseph Rowntree Foundation research concluded which was that the study reveals that 75% of employers felt that European enlargement had been good for business and that employers valued highly qualified migrant workers for low-skilled and low-waged work. They also preferred benefiting from what they see as the work ethic and reliability of migrant workers to employing reluctant UK nationals who some described as lazy.

But this low cost labour is means that wages are kept low nationally for the host population that are looking for employment. Those EU Nationals that are entitled to state benefits receive top-ups to their income via Working Tax Credits and other benefits.

So how much is the UK actually benefiting in monetary terms? I don't think anybody has worked that out just yet! The EU is about to decide whether to expand further and allow both Bulgaria and Romania to join, the UK had already hinted at some form of labour control to prevent the expected labour migration once again.

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