How does immigration benefit domestic workers?

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wojtek
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Mar 3 2013 02:29
How does immigration benefit domestic workers?

I absolutely agree with the need to organise both ourselves and migrant workers whether in work or out, but how does increasing the number of workers for employers to choose from in any one country benefit domestic workers, especially when work is scarce?

And how do we (as workers and/or claimants) stop those recruitment agencies/companies that discriminate against domestic workers from doing so?

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JoeMaguire
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Mar 3 2013 11:12
wojtek wrote:
how does increasing the number of workers for employers to choose from in any one country benefit domestic workers, especially when work is scarce?

You cant simply assess immigration in terms of its impact directly on the host population. I think it is better to see immigration as a trend or contradiction developed though processes of globalisation. Any attempt to simply curtail those forces leads to a lot of suffering and draconian politics.

Immigration for sure generates a lot of problems, but what is the alternative? It should be intuitive that if international capital can cross borders, so too should labour. And we use the mechanisms we have to organise host and immigrant populations. Much more fluid organisations could have degrees of success, where say unions or the left fail.

The best starting point for discussions on immigration is Teressa Hayters book, Open Borders. I think I disagreed with the idea of talking about the economic benefits of immigration, because it sets the tone if immigration has a negative economic impact, when it should be about a right, not economics. But the book explains that immigration controls have always been part of far right agitation, some European countries in the 90s had almost no controls and the cost in running immigration detention centres.

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Steven.
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Mar 3 2013 13:31

Hi, good questions.

I agree with what Joe says as well.

In answer to your first question, "how does immigration benefit domestic workers?" I would say a couple of things.

Basically I don't think this is the question to ask. Immigration is not a one-way system: hence why I normally prefer the term "migration". Because of course an immigrant to the UK is an emigrant from somewhere else. And the working class is global, so we can't just look at its effect in one country.

From a working-class perspective, workers from another country are not qualitatively different from workers from another gender, younger workers, or workers from a different area of the same country.

In the past you could have asked the similar question "how does letting women into the workforce benefit male workers?"

Because women entering the workforce in the UK helped push down wages of male workers. (And of course children being born and then entering the workforce helps bring down wages of older workers)

The point of us, as communists is not to ask questions which sets the interests of one part of the working class with another. It's to try to improve the lot of the working class as a whole.

So with women entering the workforce, the best thing to do was not to argue against it on the basis of it causing unemployment or low wages of male workers, it was to organise together to fight for better wages for all, and against job losses.

It is the same now, with immigration.

In terms of actual "benefits" of immigration, again apart from cultural aspects I wouldn't say there were benefits as such, other than in terms of there being greater freedom for all. It benefits us all for migration to be free - as then we can travel freely as well (don't forget there are millions of British people living and working overseas, and if the British government deported all the migrants then foreign governments would respond by deporting all the expats back). Who wants to be trapped behind an iron curtain?

On a final point, when people argue for immigration controls are usually point out that it is pointless to even talk about it. Immigration controls currently are largely set out in the interests of businesses. So workers from low-wage countries can be exploited, and denied access to citizenship privileges and workers' rights (so if they get uppity, like UCL cleaners they can get deported).

The only way to change this would be for there to be a powerful working class movement which had the ability to force change on the government. And if this were the case then it could also force change on the concrete material issues which migration supposedly impacts on (low wages, unemployment etc) - and of course a united working class is much more effective at fighting for its own interests as opposed to one divided along national/racial/citizenship lines. So you are more likely to actually achieve something being internationalist.

NannerNannerNan...
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Mar 3 2013 19:18

I was writing this long post about this and that and blah blah blah, but Steven basically said what needs to be said - and probably a bit more succintly than I. This is all fight over jobs and a race to the bottom when class unity is absolutely necessary.

wojtek
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Mar 8 2013 22:44

While dated now, reductive and top down, this excerpt still seems plausable:

http://www.mediafire.com/view/?9eddclva9x9t21a

Spikymike
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Mar 9 2013 15:24

Working class migration has always occured in the search for jobs and material survival but the 'issue of immigration' is something usually tied into a nationalist discourse, though similar divide and rule arguments have occured in more parochial and localised situations- as for instance in the UK's past Council 'local employment' policies. Where I used to work this went as far as seeking to prioritise construction contract employment on an 'estate', 'ward' and local authority boundary basis with local residents in parts of Manchester complaining if established contractors employed workers from just up the road in Liverpool!! And this sold as benevalent 'good practice'. This isn't to deny that mass migration doesn't cause problems but the solutions don't lie in withdrawing into ever more tightly knit localised 'communities' as others have said.

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Chilli Sauce
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Mar 10 2013 12:12

Not exactly an answer to your question, but an interesting perspective nonetheless:

http://www.npr.org/2013/03/08/173642807/does-crime-drop-when-immigrants-...

Again, it's pretty liberal, but might be worth a read:

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Myths_and_facts_about_immigration_to_the_Un...

wojtek
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Apr 26 2013 19:07

How do we force the government to bring vacants back into use and/or build more housing (without it descending into gentrification)?

How do claimant unions force businesses to employ workers?

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cantdocartwheels
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Apr 27 2013 12:19

Capitalism always divides the working class up into groups. Whether those are based on ethnicity or gender (after all there were orig9nally strikes against women working on the busses for instance), or your age/employment status - permanent, casual, agency etc
In terms of say young people looking for jobs, one of the main competitors would be apprenticeships and to a lesser extent workfare. Our basic demand isn't that young people doing apprenticeships should be kicked off them, but that they should be paid a decent wage for the work they do, the same wage as all other workers .

In short there's no point withdrawing into these sectional interests, we have to realise that the only way we can fight back is together with collective demands and collective solutions.

wojtek
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Apr 27 2013 13:12

And what does a w/c, +immigrant approach look like with regards housing, one that is materialist and doesn't just go 'we're all h̶u̶m̶a̶n̶ workers man'?

snipfool
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Apr 27 2013 15:25

Don't you think there were already good answers to your later questions in response to your first?

wojtek
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Apr 27 2013 17:03

Since I'm asking further questions clearly not.

Quote:
How do we force the government to bring vacants back into use and/or build more housing (without it descending into gentrification)?

If this is impossible under capitalism then why support greater immigration in the here and now? If you can't come up with concrete proposals other than some abstract argument about us being all workers then you gotta cut the number of migrants coming into the country surely since the infrastructure just doesn't exist to support such an influx?

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flaneur
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Apr 27 2013 18:54

It's a wee bit bizarre to talk about possibility in terms of an idea to destroy economies, work and states. But why stop at immigrants? You could go after the ever increasing unemployed making it harder for others to get jobs/keep theirs. Or elderly workers, staying in unemployment when others are more in need, without their sort of savings, mortgage or upcoming pension. The lazy, the school leavers and the graduates, and the parents that just keep spawning kids. There will always be someone to blame for the 'lack of infrastructure' and choosing which of the natives are more deserving will just change the scapegoat. Might even be you next.

And you might take the piss about free movement of workers coming from theory rather than THE REAL WORLD but you'd have a different tune if you was born in any other continent than Europe. Anyone of us could be those coming here if it wasn't for geographical chance. And anyone of us might choose to go abroad at some point. You can't pick and choose when to show solidarity based on when it's convenient.

snipfool
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Apr 27 2013 18:50
wojtek wrote:
Since I'm asking further questions clearly not.

Thing is I didn't think your further questioning really conveyed what you found dissatisfying about the previous responses. I tried writing a response but found myself repeating what was already said.

Quote:
Quote:
How do we force the government to bring vacants back into use and/or build more housing (without it descending into gentrification)?

If this is impossible under capitalism then why support greater immigration in the here and now? If you can't come up with concrete proposals other than some abstract argument about us being all workers then you gotta cut the number of migrants coming into the country surely since the infrastructure just doesn't exist to support such an influx?

I don't think anyone really actively supports "greater immigration" (to the UK I assume?) in the sense of pleading for people to come here. If I'm mistaken then please point me in the direction of that support. If not I'll assume you mean support for the idea that migration should be free and migrants should have our support and inclusion.

Whilst the argument that we're all just workers, man, might sound a bit abstract to you, that might be because it hasn't actually sunk in. I think Steven's analogy with women entering the workforce is a good tool for exposing what might be a residual discriminative attitude towards immigrants. Your position sounds like "there's not enough stuff to go around for everyone, what we have should be reserved for a few." I mean, that's totally antithetical to a communist perspective isn't it? As a global working class, we're sort of fucked either way- whether we let women work or not, whether we allow migration or not- because these 'issues' are not the reason we're fucked in the first place. The only sound conclusion imo is, as Steven says, to "try to improve the lot of the working class as a whole," whilst I think at the same time advocating maximal freedom (of migration, etc.)

Does the us (residents)/them (migrants) division still lurk...? What if a sudden influx of people came from within- a surge in the national birth rate? You can no longer blame it on them, unless them becomes a section of the national working class that you wish to blame instead. Would you advocate a cap on children in the same way you seem to advocate a cap on immigration? Maybe a stupid and contestable analogy, maybe not, I dunno...

Ultimately it seems that you can blame the situation on there being too many people who want to be housed, or you can blame it on a (global) system that isn't able to house everyone.

I know, I know... too abstract...

What's a materialist approach? Wouldn't it have to consider the conditions migrants face that are a factor in their migration? I mean look at Spain- rising unemployment and rising emigration are undoubtedly linked. Again, we're fucked either way, not because of migration but because of capitalism. This might be too simplistic but hasn't capitalism created a ridiculous situation where you believe a tough immigration policy would make it easier for the working class in the UK, but would at the same time (if adopted globally) make it harder for the working class in Spain?! A global working class perspective would lead us to resent not each other, but what causes these tensions in the first place...

wojtek
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Apr 27 2013 20:15

Argh fuck i don't know... the irony being that the week before last a friend was talking about the Aus immigration system and I was moaning that you couldn't get a holiday visa and just get a job picking fruit or some such while you're there without risking deportation; that it was points based dependent on one's marketable skills; that those with capital could go where they wanted, etc.

Btw, this convo is in response to Bulgarians and Romanian immigration, on which note this (@10.33 minutes) is the best interview question ever haha.

snipfool
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Apr 27 2013 20:39
wojtek wrote:
Argh fuck i don't know... the irony being that the week before last a friend was talking about the Aus immigration system and I was moaning that you couldn't get a holiday visa and just get a job picking fruit or some such while you're there without risking deportation; that it was points based dependent on one's marketable skills; that those with capital could go where they wanted, etc.

Hey, are you aware of the working holiday visa?

wojtek
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Apr 30 2013 13:49

BBC North West Tonight did a piece on the upcoming local elections and had Nick Griffin to balance out UKIP. Classy.

wojtek
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Mar 12 2015 15:02

May I just apologise to everyone on this thread for my dickishness and say thank you for arguing against my resentment. I don't half talk crap sometimes or a lot of the time...

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Steven.
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Mar 14 2015 14:43
wojtek wrote:
May I just apologise to everyone on this thread for my dickishness and say thank you for arguing against my resentment. I don't half talk crap sometimes or a lot of the time...

no worries, is good for people to ask questions like this on here, as we come up against these arguments all the time with family, friends, co-workers etc so it's good for us to hone our points (and for anyone who googles this sort of question!)