"British Jobs for British Workers"?


As the recession continues to bite strikes and mass demonstrations break out from the streets of Paris to oil and power plants across the UK.

Last Wednesday, Total the owner of a Lindsey refinery plant at North Killingholme, Lincolnshire announced that it was to hand a £200m construction contract to the Italian company Irem, which employs only Italian and Portuguese workers on the site for a cheaper rate.

The decision has sparked a wave of wildcat strike action from the plant to at least 17 other plants in Scotland and Wales. About 60 workers also walked out in a token gesture of solidarity at Kilroot power station at Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland.

The mainstream media, ‘union chiefs’ and politicians have all been keen to promote the jingoistic banner of ‘British Jobs for British Workers’. This slogan is in pattern with similar rhetoric spouted by successive governments such as the Labour government in times of economic decay and costly un-popular wars abroad to keep us all in line.

Apart from the simplistic notion and uniform definition of 'Britishness', if we were to follow the logical conclusion of such slogans, we can all forget about travelling abroad to countries such as USA and Australia in search of better wages and conditions. After all, surely it should be a case for 'US jobs for US workers'?

The underlying reason behind this outbreak in wildcat strikes is job insecurity and growing unemployment which we all face globally as workers regardless of our national origin.

This is the product of a system built on a race to the bottom in which we as workers are forced to compete, driving down our wages and conditions. While capital is free to travel protected by governments. A system that actively promotes the scapegoat and criminalisation of 'migrant workers'.

We must reject any attempts to racialise our class anger into a struggle between ‘native’ and ‘foreign’ workers. This only benefits our bosses and opportunist politicians in the long-term who thrive from our division and isolation. Resisting their cut-backs, redundancies, house evictions and reclaiming the fighting spirit in the class depends on solidarity and direct action across national borders.

We must continue to build resistance and solidarity where we live and work. The refinery workers and Waterford Crystal workers are raising the banner of class war, so must we...

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