It was not long ago that the UK construction industry all took a Summer holiday at the same time. The annual August shut-down worked well; builders' merchants, suppliers, concrete batch plants all shut down at the same time, and even the Architects behaved themselves and flew off to the Algarve for a fortnight. The pressure from most developers these days is to keep going, and no programme I've seen in recent years has shown a Summer break at all. Which is bad news for contractors whose sites are being built by Portuguese labour. You see, the Portuguese all go home at the end of July, and return at the start of September. All over, there will be pressure on many migrant workers in the UK to go home to help with the harvest - whether this is grapes, wheat or roots. Tsk. You didn't think they were going to spend a month on the beach, did you?
These lads, living in crowded multi-occupied slums while here, remitting their earnings home, living parsimoniously, will go home to listen to granny nagging about the dilapidations that need fixing, the goat that got loose, the bad knee, the cost of everything, the muck-heap that needs spreading and a new hole that needs digging for the privy, whether working in a bar makes the granddaughter a putana and why no one is there to do stuff for them. And when they get back here, they'll have to work sixty hours a week to catch up on lost time on site. And they will do.
Iain Duncan-Smith may cry foul as loudly as he likes, but which sane employer would swap these lads for their British counterparts; soft, lazy, lippy, hungover, chippy, skiving, thieving whining asthmatics. Welfarism has robbed the working class not just of their independence but of all resilience, all hardness. Hard doesn't mean getting bladdered and fighting outside Witherspoons, it means grafting six days a week in gruelling and demanding labour for low reward. It spurs a hunger and thirst for education as a way out, it engenders a self-sufficient but interdependent network of clan, caste and kinship, and it recognises Merit and will fight for an 'equal go' (as the Australians have it). And we've lost it.