environment & politics

Nationalist Concerns

I worry about this sort of thing.

A wave of Seventies-style wildcat strikes broke out across Britain today in protest at foreign workers taking jobs.

More than 1,000 employees downed tools at power plants and oil and gas refineries in
England, Scotland and Wales.

The unofficial walk-outs were triggered by anger over a major construction contract at a Lincolnshire refinery being awarded to an Italian firm that promptly imported Italian and Portuguese people to do the job.

A crowd of hundreds outside the Total oil refinery in Lindsey were told by shop steward Kenny Ward: “I’m a victim, you are a victim, there are thousands in this country that are victims to this discrimination, this victimisation of the British worker.”

The plant gave a £200 million deal to Italy’s IREM after two British firms lost in the bidding. The Italians said the contract required specialised workers.

Sympathy protests spread with a speed that echoed the fuel protests of 2000, though pickets have so far not tried to stop production.

This is the sort of message usually put forward from the far-right, not the left. I think the argument is facing the wrong way: the debate should not really be complaining about foreigners. People—or rather corporations—didn’t complain when there was an influx of cheap labour to lower costs and conditions over the years whilst preaching about the benefits of neoliberal globalization. (And in addition, successive governments that for years ignored the British working class.) This is a debate that should be between all workers and employers, surely, for fairer working conditions and labour rights—no matter what nationality. A continual debate to improve the lives of those who have to work.

But somehow racism is being thrown into the mix, and you can only see the likes of the Daily Mail jumping all over this. I dare say that the “economic crisis” will be used as an excuse for all sorts of cultural nastiness.

By Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.