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Saturday, 1 December 2012

Closing Labour's immigration doors

The dramatic recent falls in immigration are being linked in the press solely with this government's commendable actions in closing one of Labour's biggest open gates - the bogus 'business studies' colleges. With a right to issue visas, 'students' mainly from Africa and the Indian sub-continent paid their dosh to these back-doors into Britain and in return had the right both to work and to bring in their spouse. Work was often full-time rather than the permitted part-time, and spouses were soon filling the beds of the local maternity wards. These free-riders have effectively been excluded, whilst the real universities have not suffered at all - the increase in Chinese students, few of whom intend to stay permanently, making up for the lost bogus scholars. 

But I don't think this is the only factor in the immigration drop. Construction output has slumped over the past year, as the chart shows clearly;
With this downturn have departed many of the Bulgarians, Albanians, Romanians, Poles, Portuguese and Turks from our construction sites. Their work patterns are complex - many work, say, eight months in the UK then spend the rest of the time at home helping with harvests. For others the two-week Christmas shutdown becomes a couple of months, as they catch up with building their own homes or caring for their elderly mums. Browsing the easyjet fares tables will tell you when they're going and returning. Many who go home this Christmas won't be back - there's just not the work. 

And this kind of labour market flexibility is vital for UK construction, and should be welcomed by a UK government unemcumbered by employment and housing costs. Let's make sure we don't lose the baby with the bathwater. 


Barnacle Bill said...

Unfortunately there are a lot of Eastern Europeans who have decided the benefits of staying here are better than going home.

I accompanied my youngest daughter to one of her pregnacy scans this week.

Whilst it was all white faces in the waiting room, we were the only natives there, judging from the lack of English being spoken.

The Polish girl sat next to me had just been told she was having twins and informed me she was staying in the UK for their birth.

Anonymous said...

Many do not work on our construction sites. All the largest sites operate the CSCS scheme, and the chance of immigrant labour getting onto that is slight. Plus the legal need to provide training and instruction. Immigrants no longer come-in and then get-on to JCBs' insurer will tolerate that. Forget the HSE, the employers worry more about their insurers than the HSE.
Small builders, many operating illegal self-employment scams, are the main "employer" for economic immigrants, those that have not set-up their own fly-by-daylight "companies".
Quite a few come here in cars, sell them to residents (who then drive them on foreign plates with no insurance), buy cars here and then go back home to sell them etc etc..

Raedwald said...

Anon - I wouldn't over-rate the CSCS card (as one who holds the Construction Project Manager card)- the H&S test for labourers is very basic and can be easily rote-learned (even the mgmt and prof H&S is pants - I score 100% every time), and machine certification is by site supervisors and managers. All our east Europeans have valid CSCS cards.

Anonymous said...

Rather too late I'm afraid Raedwald, overpopulation will impoverish millions by the end of this century. Ours is a post-industrial society - which arrived at the same time as automation and computer-aided manufaturing. In my own environment I saw machines (NC/CNC) steadily replacing skilled men during the 80's and 90's.

Unemployment will remain above 2 million and rise slowly towards 3 million, then on to 4 million, and 5 million as we approach the middle of this century. It could have been different if it weren't for the fact we have children running the country.


Anonymous said...

It will all end in chaos.

Budgie said...

Raedwald, it may be true that immigrants give you some labour flexibility benefits, but set against that are the costs.

The costs include a creaking, overloaded infrastructure from roads to doctors; and a huge amount of new build of single storey factory units (ie tin sheds) and "executive" boxes built on farmland. Whilst brown sites just become derelict (outside London).

Moreover when all the water from rain sluices off the new concrete into drains discharging into rivers, rather than soaking into the local ground we get shrinking water tables and floods. Never mind building on flood plains.

Then we get the CAGW nuts citing this as evidence of "extreme weather events caused by global warming".

None of this is worth your labour flexibility.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully you will not have any trouble with your East Europeans.
My experience of them is via my agency work. One time I worked with a mildly pleasant Polish guy for 6 weeks, then moved-on. 3 months later I met him again at another contract, but with a different name. One person I occasionally share a pint with works at a letting agency. They will never let foreign again after repossessing a house and having to get a specialist clean-up company in to dispose of a heap of car parts and then having to dig the oil-soaked surface up and dispose of that. And no, you cannot dump it down the pit, and it costs.
Still, no worse, and possibly better, than living next door to a re-housed-un-caravanned traveller family ?