23 October 2013
Labour has put forward amendments to the Tory-led Immigration Bill shifting the focus from the Coalition’s campaign of putting harsh restrictions on immigrants, to addressing employers’ exploitation of migrant workers.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper explained: “At a time when there is real pressure from the cost of living crisis, people are really concerned that low-skilled immigration is being exploited to undercut wages.”
“The government is failing to address the exploitation of low-skilled immigration in the labour market … that’s why we are setting out sensible and practical policies, instead of the Tory-led government approach of resorting to ineffective and offensive Ad Vans, gimmicks or incorrect text messages to people who have lived here for 30 years,” she added.
Labour’s proposals include making it illegal for recruitment agencies to only recruit foreign workers, and for employers to deliberately allocate shifts to migrant employees. The party also suggests making the punishments harsher for employers exploiting overseas labour by trebling the fine for illegally employing migrant workers to £30,000 and increasing the penalty for not paying National Minimum Wage to £50,000.
The Party’s statement on the amendments do not tell us much about the content of their proposals, but once they are fully published the Institute of Employment Rights (IER) will analyse the effectiveness of Labour’s plans.
Elsewhere, George Galloway has issued an Early Day Motion proposing that “this House shares the view of the European Commission that the Government has completely failed to provide evidence that the UK benefits system is being abused by European Union migrants; rejects the government’s claim that there is a pull factor attracting EU citizens to this country to claim benefits; notes that there are 2.3 million EU Residents in Britain of which only 60,000 are claiming jobseeker’s allowance; further notes that EU nationals are net contributors to the UK benefits system; and rejects the Prime Minister’s view that EU regulations are a handicap for businesses”.
This comes after government claims that EU migrants were coming to the UK to seek state handouts was disproven by statistics from the European Commission, revealing the government’s anti-immigration policies are driven by ideology rather than facts.
The IER believes that the problem with immigration is not one of border control but of what happens to migrant workers once they arrive. Our forthcoming conference Labour Migration in Hard Times – at which a publication on the issue will be launched – will cover some of the astonishing abuses foreign employees are subjected to and the wider implications of unequal rights between domestic and migrant workforces.
Some of the UK’s leading experts in the field will be speaking at the event and have written papers for the publication.
To book your place, click here