A Trades Union Congress (TUC) study ‘The economics of migration‘ (published today) says the British economy is benefiting from the influx of migrant workers to the UK.
The far right have made accusations that immigrants are a drain on the welfare state. However, Treasury figures show that migrant workers are responsible for around ten per cent of economic growth and research by the TUC shows that:
migrant workers are paying more in taxes than the value of the public services they receive
the arrival of migrant workers has not depressed jobs or wages
thanks to the vibrant economy, low-skilled workers have not lost out
According to the report, unscrupulous employers need to stop taking advantage of migrant workers’ poor English and lack of understanding of their rights. Rather than taking it out on the migrant workers suffering the exploitation, a crack down on the minority of bad employers is required. The report recommends:
proper enforcement of employment rights such as the minimum wage
closing loopholes such as the poor protection enjoyed by agency workers
TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber, said:
‘But we do not do enough to protect vulnerable workers, whether migrant or indigenous, from exploitation. If migrant workers are treated fairly and paid a decent wage they can only add to the economy, and pose no threat to the livelihoods of the rest of the workforce.
‘The availability of migrant workers should not stop employers or government helping unemployed and disadvantaged UK citizens into work, nor stop efforts to give the low skilled the new skills they need to improve their job security and help them get better jobs.’
The TUC believes the supply of jobs to all workers – and services helping displaced workers and unemployed people to find jobs – needs to be increased to ensure that low-skilled workers do not find themselves pushed out of the market.
TUC research shows enforcement of the UK minimum wage must be a greater priority than it is at present. The Low Pay Commission and the Government must make special efforts to make sure that the value of the minimum wage does not fall relative to pay generally. Migrant workers who are paid less than the minimum wage are being exploited and the emergence of a large group of employers habitually breaking the law could undermine the minimum wage’s effectiveness for all workers.
Any unplanned population change can put strains on an area if the social and housing infrastructure cannot cope. So, a share of the extra prosperity that migrant workers are contributing to the economy should be used to ensure local public services can deal with new workers, argues the TUC.
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