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UK and European Migration, Austerity and Working Life Kathleen Walker Shaw GMB European Officer GEPO Conference 19 September 2013 Manchester.

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Presentation on theme: "UK and European Migration, Austerity and Working Life Kathleen Walker Shaw GMB European Officer GEPO Conference 19 September 2013 Manchester."— Presentation transcript:

1 UK and European Migration, Austerity and Working Life Kathleen Walker Shaw GMB European Officer GEPO Conference 19 September 2013 Manchester

2 EU migration to the UK There are only 2.3mn migrants from all other EU Member States living in the UK Migration predominantly temporary and circular The vast majority are employed and so contribute to our economy Generally, EU migrants are much less likely to claim unemployment benefits than British nationals Many of the migrants are highly if not over-qualified and work in lower skilled jobs, for which they are often underpaid © British Influence’s EuropeWatch

3 UK migrants in the EU Little talk or focus on number of UK nationals working or living abroad 1.4mn live permanently elsewhere in Europe (2.2mn if you add those part- time) Making the British the fifth biggest expat community in the whole EU 1/2mn UK pensioners live abroad And thousands of British students take part in study or vocational exchange programmes across the EU every year © British Influence’s EuropeWatch

4 Statistics used divisively to mislead Media say net migration increased to 176,000 by the end of 2012 But this is only in comparison to September 2012 figures (of 153,000) Net migration has actually decreased from 215,000 in 2011 And the official statistics show a “significant decline” in 2012 immigration rates as a whole (497,000) compared to 2011 (566,000)

5 Truth v Myths on Bulgarian and Romanian migration Government commissioned report in April on the ‘Potential impacts on the UK of future migration from Bulgaria and Romania’ – but the conclusions didn’t match its rhetoric… Current trends show UK is not favoured destination (Spain, Italy and Germany are most popular) Generally young, employed, without families and fairly gender-balanced Claim far fewer benefits than UK nationals and other migrant groups Negligible impact on health services; no evidence of health tourism No disproportionate burden on social housing market High rates of self-employment Many live in unsafe and overcrowded housing (exploited by landlords) Lack of awareness and understanding of their rights and needs from local service providers

6 Political Spin “Next year the EU will allow 29mn Bulgarians and Romanians to come to the UK” – UKIP 2013 campaign leaflet “Uncontrolled immigration has put intolerable pressure on our country’s infrastructure and has pushed down wages for low- skilled jobs” – Immigration Minister Mark Harper MP [Con] “Health tourism costs Britain £200mn a year” – Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP [Con] “There is somewhat of a crisis over [lifting restrictions to EU migrants]. Some people want to come here solely to claim benefits” – Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith MP [Con]

7 …Continued “Mass EU immigration” has “pushed down wages and restricted job opportunities”, “crippled” pensions and caused “violent crime” in our cities – UKIP ‘What We Stand For’ “A deluge of immigrants” are “adversely affecting our labour market and also putting an intolerable strain on our housing stock, education and health services” – Paul Nuttall MEP [UKIP Deputy Leader] “The native Welsh will be a minority in their own country within the next 15 to 20 years” – James Cole [UKIP MEP candidate] “Immigration [brings] new pressure to our public services and fresh strains on health, housing and education” – Grant Shapps [Con Party Chair]

8 The reality on social benefits Established provisions already exist within the EU Treaties guaranteeing equal access to social benefits for all EU citizens Rights have been wrongly denied due to pressure of crisis, austerity and public sector cuts UK complaint that citizens denied free treatment in some Spanish hospitals But EU now taking UK to court over illegally denying rightful access to benefits for thousands of EU citizens living and working in Britain

9 Failure to get a grip of the issue © Hope Not Hate “It is not racist to ask people who are here illegally to leave Britain, It is merely telling then to comply with the law” – Mark Harper MP Immigration Minister “You’ve got to question the government’s competence. We need effective action on immigration not offensive stunts. Silly gimmicks won’t solve anything” – Chris Bryant MP Shadow Immigration Minister

10 Crisis and austerity in Europe Exploiting insecurities Greece – Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn, with vigilante uniformed thugs and almost certainly behind shooting of migrant workers demanding unpaid wages Hungary – Anti-Semitic and homophobic Jobbik party France – Leader of National Front facing trial for anti-Muslim hate- speech Italy – Former Northern League leader calls for illegal immigrants to be shot; Anti-establishment 5 Star Movement is xenophobic, anti-trade union and forging relationships with fascist-leaning far-right UK – British National Party is weaker than in 2009 but has been countered by rise of English Defence League; both parties see UKIP as potential ‘ally’

11 Youth Unemployment – A Major Threat Nearly a quarter (23.4%) of all under-25s are unemployed across the whole EU Figure gets higher every month in Greece (62.9%) and Spain (56.1%) where now over half of all young people cannot find a job Lowest rates remain in Germany (7.7%) and Austria (9.2%) – thanks to their youth guarantee scheme and high investment

12 GMB’s Position GMB welcomes migrant workers but insists they must be paid the rate for the job like UK workers To fail to do this is exploitation and discrimination With each wave of migration to the UK, GMB has welcomed migrant workers into the Union and supported them in: Stopping exploitation by rogue employers undermining collectively agreed conditions, and ensuring their employment and social rights Giving strength through organising Informing migrant workers on their rights, protections and health and safety, in native languages

13 GMB Migrant Worker Organisation GMB actively organises migrant workers, including by establishing dedicated branches Has recruited Polish, Lithuanian and other EU officers to support its Organisation Produces, and translates, materials on rights at work and workplace organising tools GMB has pushed for stronger enforcement of EU Posted Workers rights

14 Trade unions and civil society must be voice of reason Working together to support and integrate EU migrants into our communities Demanding political integrity in the system and balanced debates Encouraging members to trust their own judgments and principles and question what we hear from the media and politicians We must not underestimate the power of our vote and the need to use it carefully

15 Topics for Group Discussions Immigration is currently a very sensitive issue in the UK and EU. What 3 key aims and policy objectives would you campaign for to create a more balanced and effective policy direction? Are there more constructive best practice examples of dealing with the immigration debate in your country? What do you think needs to be done to tackle the unacceptably high youth unemployment across the EU? How do you think trade unions and community groups can work more closely together in tackling these challenges?


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