Share |

A response to National Citizens Movement (NCM) statement on migrant workers – I

Part 1
Banksy Workers of the World

 ‘Immigration control’ is one of the forms of racism – among other forms – that specifically targets the workers. Firstly, it targets the ‘local’ workers by pretending to be on their side and protecting their wages and working conditions and in the process tries turning them agains migrant workers. Secondly, it targets the ‘migrant’ workers by accusing them of ‘stealing’ jobs from the local workers and ‘lowering wages’. A detailed and open minded look into the arguments of ‘immigration control’ defenders will reveal that these arguments are as ridiculous as suggesting that “the workers of Kilkenny are stealing the jobs of workers in Waterford”.

Before we go any further, let’s clarify something. No, I am not using the ’race card’, to quickly dismiss the arguments of ‘immigration control’. I take these things seriously and respond with some points to prove that,

  1. Immigration control is indeed a form of racism and
  2. It has nothing to do with defending the workers.

In fact, the second point above may well be the more important of the two in order to have a clear understanding of what ‘immigration control’ really is about and how to burry this debate for once and for all. This is, of course, the optimist in me. Until we get rid of the system and the conditions that create racism, we will probably never see the end of such debates.

I am up for a debate but also for the fight to change the world. Are you?

‘Immigration Control’ arguments specifically target the workers because it builds its arguments and propaganda around and on the issue of ‘jobs’. Jobs, wages and unemployment are very tangible issues in the minds of hundreds of thousands of - employed and unemployed - workers. The issue of jobs – or the lack of it – is a very real one and it affects people on a daily basis. You have a proper job, you can feed your family, or you don’t have one and your children go hungry. It is as simple as that. Because of this, at times of crisis and high unemployment ‘immigration control’ arguments gain momentum and some level of popularity among the people.

Recently the National Citizens Movement (NCM) in Ireland (which was setup to fight the water charges in the courts) has published a statement on social media regarding workers in this country. They must have given up on the water fight and instead started focusing on workers. The title of this statement says “THE STATUS OF MIGRANT WORKERS AND REGULATIONS TO ENSURE EQUALITY AMONG ALL WORKERS

Before we read the full text, we must say, what a brilliant tittle! Even the most radical trade union couldn’t easily come up with such a title. It definitely makes you want to read the full text and even share it on social media. Very clever indeed…

THE STATUS OF MIGRANT WORKERS- Oh, great! As we know from various news reports etc. migrant workers are exploited, badly treated and hopefully this statement will address these issues.

REGULATIONS– Again, great! It seems it is exposing our rulers, policy makers and demands change to safeguard workers’ rights and conditions.

EQUALITY AMONG ALL WORKERS – Wonderful! As a worker, as a migrant I am really excited about the text I am going read below this heading. Not just an abstract call for ‘Equality’ but ‘Equalityamong all workers’! Migrant or non-migrant, doesn’t matter. What a call, what a demand. Karl Marx must be smiling in his grave.

Let’s read the text…

Ok, ignore the fact that the first reference in the statement is RTE Prime Time, and that these guys in the National Citizens Movement would actually be very critical of such official news etc. and they surely would get their facts and figures from some greater historic and social/political/economical evidences…

Read on…

First a small point: Is it a grammatical error ? The statement starts with ‘I’ - “I have been saying”. Is this a statement of the campaign group? If so how come it starts with ‘I’? Who is this ‘I’?

Never mind, read on…

And KABOOM!!! Here comes the first shock.

When they talk about ‘the status of migrant workers’, they are actually calling for 'immigration control' and not the working conditions of migrant workers in Ireland… That is what they mean with REGULATION.

Oh my god! Am I reading a Tory party or a badly modified-and-softened-for-Irishversion of a UKIP statement?

HOUSE IS FULL” Wait, I remember this from somewhere, but where? OK, got it, from banners of some of the openly racist campaign groups in other countries. Do these guys in NCM know what they are talking about and whose slogans they are using?

But hang on a minute, If Irish people are emigrating for work, what caused this at first place? And what happens if Australia or Canada shut their borders to these young Irish people? Or, even worse, the US has similar unemployment issues etc. What do we do if they deport the undocumented Irish back to Ireland?

Unfortunately, there are no answers to be found in the text for these questions…

Then it goes on about ‘free movement of the people’ and mentions the risk of losing Irish identity. Are we talking about migrant workers or some attack of ‘cultural imperialism’ on Ireland? Am I missing something? How did we come to this subject?  This is in fact propaganda that the racist campaigns around the globe use, isn’t it? Not only today but also in the past…

Surely when these guys are talking about ‘our identity’, they don’t identify themselves with Dennis O’Brien, FG/LP/FF politicians, Irish Water bosses and the corrupt bankers etc.? But these people are also all Irish, aren’t they?

Thanks very much, for luring me into reading your statement using the title “EQUALITY AMONG ALL WORKERS” and then explaining it as “All workers of all nationalities are protected by having work permits or a labour market test in every country”. I see, this is what they mean with ‘equality of all workers’.

Seriously; even the most neoliberal, right-wing government couldn’t come up with such a ‘clever’ idea of calling ‘labour tests’ as “EQUALITY AMONG ALL WORKERS” and then use this as a division among workers and diversion from the real issues such as the #watercharges

In short, what the NCM statement says: “Stay in your own country and be equal to Irish workers…” Does anyone remember Enoch Powell and ‘rivers of blood’? What rubbish, what a reactionary nonsense, what a shameful tactic to use things like ‘equality’ while dividing workers and promote racism in a soft ‘Powellian’ style...

I can’t help but thinking about this “HOUSE IS FULL” slogan… For the last 100 years, someone somewhere kept saying that. But the population of the world has been increasing and European countries, including Ireland aren’t sinking to the bottom of the sea.

We’ll come back to this point later.

All in all, this statement is all about advocating ‘immigration control’ and it is not a defence of workers. Nor it is a ‘right to decent work’ campaign. It is a reactionary, misguided, confused and utterly simple view of the world. It uses some of the oldest tricks in the ‘racism-for-dummies’ manual. It has no pros-cons style debate, evidence or information, and it lacks of proper analysis. It is an outpour of fear and populist right-wing ideology. From geographical lies to culture to workers’ wages it ticks all the boxes on the racist check-list and it does so using the progressive sounding arguments such as the 'workers’ right'.  But it fails - and has no interest - in addressing the real issues and stays away from fighting the real enemy…

How come there is no reference to what happened in Ireland 6 years ago? Who caused it? Why do we have high unemployment today, why do we have fewer jobs and more super wealthy people?

Do these guys even know the historic rates of unemployment and wages in Ireland? Or the current labour demands in the country and the economic impact of the immigration?

I guess not… I hope not… I say “I hope not” because maybe if they don’t know these things they may find out the facts and change their mind. There is always hope.

Or, maybe if the migrants wouldn’t drink that much water, there wouldn’t be any #watercharges…!

(To be continued…)

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (3 votes)

Google Video