The social dumping of exploited foreign workers in Britain is being carried out under EU rules demanding the “free movement of capital, goods, services and labour” within the EU. Successive EU Directives and European Court of Justice decisions have also been used to attack trade union collective bargaining, the right to strike and workers’ pay and conditions.
The Single European Market, created by the Tory government with the Single European Act in 1987, creates a pool of working people to be exploited and treated no better than a commodity like a tin of beans. These EU rules allow employers to escape from national collective bargaining and employment legislation and impose lower wages and worse working conditions, creating a “race to the bottom”.
These EU rules, which no-one asked for, have been behind some of the most bitter industrial disputes in recent years, like the Irish Ferries dispute, the strike of Gate Gourmet workers at Heathrow, and the Lindsey oil refinery workers’ strike.
The European Court of Justice has even decreed in the Laval and Viking cases that collective agreements that protect workers’ conditions contravene the ‘free movement’ of labour in the single market.
The recent protests at Lindsey, supported by workers across Britain, were not against foreign workers or xenophobic. These workers were simply defending the fundamental right to work under union agreements – a right not given by EU directives or treaties.
The so-called ‘free movement’ of labour is part of the development of a deeply racist Fortress Europe which would increasingly exclude people from outside the EU and undermine wages and working conditions inside the bloc.
To ferry workers across Europe to carry out jobs that local workers can be trained to perform is an environmental, economic and social nonsense.
If ‘food-miles’ represent an unacceptably large carbon footprint, then ‘labour-miles’ and shunting human beings around Europe in the pursuit of profit is even more damaging.
In the 1980s recession Tory minister Norman Tebbit famously told the unemployed to ‘get on their bikes’ to look for work. Now well-shod government ministers advise workers in Britain ‘to get on a plane’ and find work elsewhere in the EU!