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Strikes

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Jan. 31st, 2009 | 05:44 pm

The problem isn't strikes. The basis behind the strikes is good; they're an organised response to people being screwed over by the disruptive, race-to-the-bottom practice of relentless subcontracting that's become the norm. Tender everything out to individual firms and you don't have to deal with whatever organised labour groups remain; you've not only subcontracted your work, you've subcontracted your labour relations as well, and it's much easier to win labour disputes if you're dealing with small groups of unconnected employees. Strictly on the balance sheet it can easily be more expensive to contract out, if you eliminate this factor; sure, the individual workers earn less but who cares about them?

Problems come when the focus turns from the bosses (a hard target) to other workers (an easy, and encouraged, target). The press characterises it all as being about "the use of foreign labour" - as if it would be fine if they'd subcontracted to British companies, there've not been any strikes about that no sir - and all sorts of vulture groups like the BNP wait around to jump on any situation like this. With a few exceptions, the people who get quoted in the mainstream are all "fuck the Italians what about the Brits", and the choice by some to use Brown's stupid "British jobs for British workers" statement to attack him is a very poor one. The basic point needs to be made very clear.

IWW cartoon frame

We are after all in a situation where we have
the European Court of Justice's recent Viking and Laval decisions – which effectively outlawed industrial action where unions are trying to win equal pay for migrant workers and banned public bodies from requiring foreign contractors to pay such workers local rates
We're not meant to organise internationally.
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Comments {3}

Foreign labour

from: anonymous
date: Jan. 31st, 2009 08:06 pm (UTC)
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Weren't you foreign labour once upon a time! It's OK getting at the Italians taking our jobs and our women but does anyone remember Auf Weidersein Pet or am I just showing my age!
OP

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fridgemagnet

Re: Foreign labour

from: fridgemagnet
date: Jan. 31st, 2009 08:24 pm (UTC)
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Somebody was talking about Auf Weidersehin Pet on the radio, but I think it may have been David Blunkett so that doesn't count.

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Re: Foreign labour

from: anonymous
date: Feb. 1st, 2009 09:28 am (UTC)
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For those who require elucidation, Auf Weidersein Pet (which is being shown on one of those channels that does endless repeats) was a comedy about a group of British migrant workers from Newcastle mostly who went to work in the German construction industry in the 80s (?) when there was no work here but Germany was needing lots of workers. That's when Germany created the group known as "gast arbeiter" (guest worker) and imported thousands of Turkish people because, at that time, they were the nearest cheap workforce.

What goes around comes around ...

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