Saturday, 8 October 2016

Amber warning

Copied from Rock Against The Right's Facebook page
This may surprise some people but, as a rule, I am not a great follower of political speeches; words are cheap, after all, and I prefer to judge our rulers by what they do, not what they say. However, there are times when the words should be heeded, and one example is Home Secretary Amber Rudd's speech to the recent Tory Party rally.

In particular, among a whole swathe of proposals designed to appeal to the large xenophobic element in her audience, she floated the idea of forcing companies to reveal what proportion of their workforces are migrants. At a time when hate crimes are on the increase after the EU vote, it seems irresponsible to give the bigots more ammunition. I'd say there's a good chance that 'named and shamed' companies would face a racist backlash, a reaction that would rapidly extend from the company to the workers themselves. They might as well put signs outside proclaiming: "Here be foreigners!" 

I can see no point in this idea, except to try to foment consumer boycotts which, if they gain enough support, may close businesses down and put people out of work - not forgetting the loss of provision of goods and services to us. Less drastically, employers may reduce their workforces to shed migrant workers, or not expand if that growth could only be achieved using migrant staff. This interference in an employer's right to choose the people he or she sees as most suitable will benefit neither the business concerned or the country as a whole. Young white males who drift into ultra-right politics, blaming foreigners for taking 'their' jobs, should have got their finger out at school, instead of dismissing it all as rubbish, failing, and then becoming angry when potential employers pick others who worked hard to make themselves more employable.

The UK's hospitality industry relies on migrant workers, who make up an estimated 24% of the workforce. The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers has said: "Pubs, bars and restaurants do not actively recruit abroad seeking foreign workers; they recruit locally and it is unfair to imply that businesses are failing to support the UK workforce or failing in their duty to provide opportunities or training."

To give an example: according to the People 1st, a skills and workforce development organisation, the British hospitality industry will have to recruit 11,000 chefs in the next eight years. With colleges reporting a decline in applications for full-time chef courses, employers will have no option but to look elsewhere for staff. What does anyone gain from such employers publishing the proportion of migrant workers they employ? 

Let's hope this pointless proposal does not make it beyond the conference rostrum, but if it does, it will over the years cause difficulties for all areas of the hospitality industry without any discernible gains for those of us who use it, or indeed for the country generally.

There's a petition on this subject asking Ms Rudd to abandon this ill-considered idea.


  1. Well said, Nev. I’ve already signed the petition against this silly woman’s spiteful proposals; particularly as I work for a company which employs a relatively high number of EU nationals.

    There is already too much government interference in how businesses are run, but these proposals go far beyond what might be considered as reasonable, and will only pander to some of the more extreme elements in our society.

    Your point about disenfranchised young white males, who preferred to mess around at school, rather than knuckle down and actually learn something, is well made; especially as we have found that most of our co-workers from other European countries are well educated and quick to adapt to a wide range of tasks.

    Leaving aside the xenophobic nature of the Home Secretary’s proposals, discrimination against foreign workers will do a grave disservice to many sectors of industry and commerce (to say nothing of the NHS), if they are allowed to go through

  2. Thanks for that, Paul. I see we've had the quickest instance of backtracking in some time: the government will compile the info for planning purposes, they say, but it will not now be published.

  3. I am only too pleased to have helped, Nev. I am not overly political myself, but I do pay attention to what is going on. I have much more of an interest in history, which goes right back to my formative years. People never seem to learn the lessons of the past, and I find the direction this country is taking, since the referendum, of considerable concern and at times, quite disturbing.


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