Immigration

Sarkozy's raids of the playgrounds

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At the recent inauguration of a Moscow memorial to the victims of the gulag Nicolas Sarkozy made a fervent speech about the importance of human rights, underlining the necessity of interaction between authorities and population.

In accordance with the republican tradition, he stressed that in France "no one is above the law". Curiously, the French president seemed to have forgotten that in his country the law is currently being reformed so as to contradict the very human rights he was referring to.

Sarkozy's newly created ministry for immigration and integration maintains an image of support for immigrant families and their descendants, while its new policies are by far the most aggressive France has witnessed in the last decades.

Migrant workers and British hospitality

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"If you don't know who employs you, you can lose your job at any time," said a Polish hotel worker. "I feel this insecurity about my future in England. There are no rules here."

The insecurity is well founded. "During the eight months I worked I never knew whether I'd get paid, but I also had no idea who I was really working for and to whom I should complain when I'm not paid," said another Polish worker living in the south of England.

Companies use labour providers who subcontract to smaller agencies set up to act as front shops. These can then be folded up at any minute to avoid inspection. When wages are left unpaid, the agencies simply lay the blame with their parent companies.

Good Things Don't Come to Those Who Wait - in Chinatown

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"We don't get paid wages here," said a waiter at Chinatown's Furama Restaurant. "We only have tips of around £200 a week. The service charge goes to the employer. We don't get a penny."

This testimony is not an anomaly. Catering and hotel employers are making their own rules and there is no legal basis from which to challenge them.

The practices of one catering company, Green Events Ltd, provide a useful example. Prior to January waiters were paid £6.25 per hour plus 10 percent service charge. Under the new system, however, they are paid just;£4.25 per hour. Their employer uses the service charge to meet the minimum wage.

Domestic Abuse

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New government plans will remove the already pitiful rights of some of the most vulnerable migrant workers in Britain. Investigative journalist Hsiao-Hung Pai talks to the women who have travelled across the globe to look after the homes and children of the rich

Mary's employers refused to allow her to visit her Sri Lankan home despite her two years of constant service. The family she worked for would not give Mary - their domestic worker - just two weeks off in exchange for her 24-hour live-in labour, providing personal care and housekeeping duties. Instead she was rewarded with starvation, and forced to sleep in the sitting room.

Immigration: Do Immigrants Lower Wages?

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Increasingly both politicians and the media argue that immigrant workers lower wages. Dave Crouch explains how Marx's writing can help to see through these claims.

There is a common sense we all grow up with about how the economy is supposed to work. In theory, the deal between capital and labour is simple. Capitalists say to the workers, "You help us increase profits and we will reward you with higher wages. That way everyone wins."

The reality, however, is almost exactly the opposite. Across the industrialised world companies are enjoying an era of extraordinarily high profit growth. But, except for those at the very top of the income scale, pay rises are barely keeping up with inflation.

Refugees, Asylum and Immigration: The Facts

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The facts to undermine the racist myths, and useful links for more information.

There is no such person as an 'illegal asylum seeker'. By law, anyone has the right to enter Britain and apply for asylum, and to stay until a final decision has been made. The government is not allowed to penalise a refugee or asylum seeker for having false papers or ID - the 1951 Convention to which Britain is a signatory recognises the difficulty of gathering the correct papers when fleeing war or persecution.

Immigration: Dealing with the Race Card

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Both the main parties are feeding a new generation of racist myths over the issue of asylum.

In the run-up to both the 1997 and 2001 general elections, the Commission for Racial Equality called the leaders of the major parties together for a Queensberry rules type summit. These meetings culminated in the signing of a 'compact' committing the parties to a sensible and moderate debate about immigration and asylum. In truth the compact, though well intentioned, amounted to nothing as politicians scrambled for votes. As unofficial campaigning for this year's election starts in earnest, the best that can be said is that we are being spared the cynical pretence.

Immigration: The Bully of the Gang

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Migrants face violence, intimidation and insecurity when working in Britain - so says a new report released by the TUC. Peter Morgan spoke to Bridget Anderson, one of the report's authors.

This is a report that the government did not want you to see. 'Forced Labour and Migration to the UK' was written by two independent academics and explores the relationship between forced labour, migration and the deregulated markets under the Labour government. The report was initially delivered to the International Labour Organisation and the TUC last year but it remained unpublished for six months.

Immigration: Last Refuge of the Racists

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Where the Mail and the Daily Express lead on migration policy, home secretary David Blunkett and Tony Blair are sure to follow.

After weeks of mounting hysteria in the gutter press declaring that every Roma in eastern Europe will move to Britain in May, Blunkett announced ’tough‘ new measures to restrict legal migration of workers from the ten east European countries that are about to join the EU. The measures, in direct response to demands from the racist press, the Tories and the BNP, will force migrant workers to carry ID cards (which, we are told, will then be extended to all EU citizens in Britain, presumably including British nationals).

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