Thursday, February 09, 2006

Free Labour

One of the criticism's of globalization has been that it restricts economic liberty of workers, their ability to move freely across borders for work, while allowing capital free access to all markets.

The EU has finally recognized this problem.

"A free movement of workers is economically rational. It is one of the values that is defined by the European treaties," Spidla said.

However their solution will only apply to legal migration while the multitude is sans papier, those who are illegal. The core of capitalisms underground economy in Europe and North America for that matter. The source of racism in Europe and the rebirth of fascism, as religious fundamentalism and as white power. Dual aspects of the problem of undocumented workers migrating into the capitals of capitalism.

Black market risk
On the other hand, labour restrictions in some countries may have encouraged an "exceptionally high influx of posted workers or workers claiming to be self-employed" from the east, the document indicates.

It also stressed "restrictions on labour market access may exacerbate resort to undeclared work," which could be undesirable for both undeclared and regulated workers.

Migrants from central and eastern Europe did not "crowd out national workers," according to the report, and filled up vacancies in hotels, restarurants, transport and mainly in the construction sector where their number is double that of EU15 employees.

Also, the commission points out that fears expressed in the UK about possible expoitation of social benefits by Poles or Lithuanians have also not materialised, as there have been only about 45 cases of benefit claims in Britain, out of 200,000 registered workers.

East Europeans are traditionally less mobile and generally unwilling to travel too far in search of a job, a legacy of 40 years of state planning that discouraged free movement of labor in the former Soviet satellite countries. The exception is Poland, where private entrepreneurship, although often illegal, existed even under communism and where workers are used to resettling to find a job.

This is the real fear in the EU of not only now being swamped with migrant workers from the South but cheap labour from Poland. Currently underwaged non union construction workers are being imported to work in France, Germany etc. competing with unionized construction workers. This is one of the reasons that there was both right and left unity last year in opposing the EU constitution which saw a liberalization of the economy to allow for greater privatization and contracting out pitting worker against worker.

It is not the Eastern European workers that is the real concern in Europe. It is the African and Turkish guest workers, and migrant labour that Europe has relied upon for years that has created the conditions for racist exploitation that goes unheeded until it erupts into riots as we saw last year in France.

Germany, Austria and France, where fears of migrant workers taking over jobs run high, are likely to use the entire transitional period until 2011, despite objections by the commission.

And yet these are the very countries that relied on Turkish, Albanian and Yugoslavian Guestwokers in the seventies to grow their economies. In the latter case the Yugoslavian economy relied on exporting workers rather than commodities for its economic stability.

After thirty years it ended with the crisis of unification of Germany and the influx into the German economy of unemployed, underemployed East Germans. In effect creating an economic crisis in the Yugoslavian republics, that eventually led to the devastating internecine warfare. The political recognition of Slovenia and Croatia by the powerful German state, flexing its geopolitical muscles also contributed to the Balkan crisis of the ninties.

In the case of Turkish guest workers, they were never integrated into the German economy as citizens. As with France and its large mass of unemployed Muslims from Africa, Turkey and other Islamic countries that came to work in the underground economy and the legitimate low paid economy of hotel and service work.

And as with Mexican workers in the United States, those 'illegal aliens' which Lou Dobbs rants about, the economy of Empire cannot exist without them. Global capitalism requires low waged work and masses of unemployed to offset the wage demands of better paid workers, to challenge workers rights to their profit in order to maintain their profits. This then leads to the jingoistic nationalism and racism in the working class, pitting worker against worker.

The new EU regulations will not change this dynamic but exasperate it, creating the conditions for more outbursts like the riots in France.

Europe-wide day of action for freedom of movement and universal rights

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