The Gillick Report is a “distortion of the real story”

While I agree with Mrs Gillick that immigration is an important issue and I commend her for spending so much time gathering statistics, it is a pity she spoils this with sloppy, inaccurate assumptions and poor analysis.

She states “Our troubles began…. with the European Union stipulating unfettered movement of people” and concludes that Wisbech has become impoverished by the mass influx of migrants.

This emotional and parochial analysis is a distortion of the real story of the growth of migration into the UK over 25 years and undermines her hard work.

The 1980s UK switch to low skilled, low paid, insecure service sector jobs created a demand for migrant workers from the early 1990s. At the time I was working in London and saw first hand the growth of migrant labour from both inside and outside the EU in low paid service sector jobs.

Competitive tendering in local government, where I worked, saw local cleaners sacked and replaced by migrant workers who spoke very little English, who were low paid and hired and fired at will.

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It is no accident that since the mid 1990s, the growth of labour migration to Britain followed a shift in its labour market regulation away from trade union recognition and collective bargaining towards a more flexible and individualised regime. It was the stated aim of Thatcherism that employers could find it easier to hire and fire workers, pursue casualised work practices, intensify work and reduce wages.

Although migration increased further under New Labour from 1997 there was still difficulty filling vacancies.

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The UK has come to resemble an economy whereby the workforce increasingly exhibits the outlook and flexibility of migrant workers.

Employment agency inspection is an example. Due to the number of employment agencies and lack of inspectors an employment agency can expect an inspection just once in 39 years and a prosecution almost never. The Gangmaster’s Licensing Authority has seen its staffing cut from 89 to 68 between 2010 and 2013.

Blaming the immigrants hides the real causes of low pay, inadequate housing, high rents and prevents a solution to the problems.

Removing migrant workers from the labour force will not change this. We need to change our whole labour market economy and undertake a radical reform of employment rights for workers.

As long as we prefer to accept the inaccurate views of Mrs Gillick we will continue to be unable to effectively respond to the issues immigration presents


Secretary of the Wisbech, March & District Trades Union Council

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