The UKIP delusion and issues of migrant labour

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The UKIP delusion and issues of migrant labour

Post by LadyCentauria »

This essay has been transferred from the FlyTheNest archive, maintaining the original layout
TechnicalEphemera wrote:This section contains a rather long article on UKIP, where their support comes from and why migrant labour is a big issue. It looks at the nature of migrant labour in the UK and what might be done about it.

The article is in multiple parts with references at the end. Please feel free to add comments and abuse at the end of the paper, or just to ignore it completely.
Last edited by LadyCentauria on Sun 28 Sep, 2014 9:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The UKIP delusion and issues of migrant labour

Post by LadyCentauria »

TechnicalEphemera wrote: Fighting UKIP from the left by addressing the issues of migrant labour in the UK.

Abstract

This article looks at the nature of UKIP and how it gains traction from the issues of migrant labour. It argues that an effective policy for attacking UKIP from the left is to address the issue of migrant labour and what that means for many working people in the UK.

The article presents an analysis of migrant labour as used in UK agriculture, and considers how the real picture fails to fit the UKIP narrative. It shows how the EU is to a degree a help to the local workforce in the shires, and it shows how even if the UK left Europe and banned immigration the problem would remain. It also shows how the expected influx of Rumanian and Bulgarian workers is an illusion in this sector of the economy as they are already working in the UK in agriculture, and are expected to leave the sector in large numbers when they are given the right to work.

The article concludes with a range of options that could address the real problems faced in the sector, which are in many cases the exact opposite of those proposed by UKIP.
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Re: The UKIP delusion and issues of migrant labour

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TechnicalEphemera wrote: Part 1 - Who are the Kippers and how should Labour attack them.

No doubt many regular FTNers have enjoyed the sight of the Tory party ripping lumps out of each other, and yet are also concerned with the rise of Nigel Farage and his merry band of kippers. Therefore it seems logical to look at UKIP, what they are really about, and what Labour should do about it. Probably the first question to ask, what is the required outcome for Labour in any anti UKIP strategy, here is my answer.

A Labour strategy should ensure that potential UKIP voters who would normally see Labour as their natural party come to see that Labour not UKIP best represents their interests.

I would also add the following.

Any Labour strategy to counter UKIP shall not result in left of centre Labour voters moving to alternative left wing parties. Which is a roundabout way of saying it should not move the party to the right.

Since this is a strategy to tackle UKIP, the first place to start is to look at who they are, and where their support comes from. Peter Kellner of You Gov produced the following analysis in March.

"UKIP voters are more likely than Tories to read one of right-of-centre tabloids, the Mail, Sun or Express.

Demographically, UKIP voters attract men slightly more than women – and the party draws its support disproportionately from older people with fewer qualifications. Whereas 46% of all voters are over 50, and 38% under 40, the figures for UKIP are 71% and 15% respectively. And just 13% of UKIP supporters have university degrees – half the national average (though this partly reflects the age profile: older people generally were less likely to attend university when they were young).

UKIP voters are less likely than voters generally, and far less likely than Conservative voters, to be above-average earners. 23% of UKIP supporters live in households whose total income exceeds £40,000, compared with 38% of Tories and 28% of Labour voters."

Source: You Gov Peter Kellner 5th March 2013

Lord Ashcroft has done some polling that specifically looked at the voting history of UKIP voters. The findings of his organisation was summarised by the excellent ukpollingreport.co.uk as follows.

"amongst the 1000 people who said they would vote UKIP at the moment in Ashcroft’s poll, 45% say they voted Tory in 2010, 27% UKIP, 15% Lib Dem, 6% Did not vote, 4% Labour and 4% other parties."

So on the face of it nothing for Labour to worry about. Unfortunately this poll was carried out before UKIP received their post Eastleigh and post Cameron Referendum shambles boost. There is evidence that at higher levels of support UKIP takes votes from Labour. (Note in true journalistic style I have asserted a guess as fact. In fact I vaguely remember seeing a study on this and polling suggests it to be true but I have no well researched source to base this on. This observation is therefore to be considered questionable - better research may substantiate it or kill it.)

More interesting is Ashcroft's observations about what really matters to UKIP voters. The headline which Cameron has clearly missed is:

It isn't Europe you muppet.

Ashcroft's findings again summarised by ukpollingreport.co.uk were as follows.

"Amongst people considering UKIP ... 68% name the economy as one of the most important issues facing the country, followed by immigration on 52% and welfare dependency on 46%. Europe is fifth on 27%… meaning almost three quarters of UKIP considerers really don’t see the issue of Europe as that important."

This can also be seen in a recent ICM poll which concluded that, of UKIP voters (or people who claim to be UKIP voters - 20 percent would either probably stay or probably leave the EU while 77 percent would definitely leave. Put another way 1 in 5 UKIP voters hasn't definitely given up on the EU.

This is how Anthony Wells at ukpollingreport.co.uk characterises UKIP

"UKIP support is not particularly connected with Europe, it is an anti-immigration vote and protest vote against some aspects of modern Britain, a general reactionary vote in support of taking Britain back to a status quo ante."

Taken together this suggests that the (non existent) general UKIP voter is as follows. An angry badly informed old man, who sees simplistic answers to his problems. He blames the fact he is poorer than his peers on immigrants (even though he is no longer working having retired). He believes in slashing taxes (even though he is reliant on the services of the state) and deep down longs for a return to a magical past which in reality existed only in his (and Michael Gove's) imagination.

Clearly any individual who actually held those views would be so conflicted that they wouldn't be able to function in the real world, so one assumes it is a bit more complex than that. In fact, it seems plausible (warning - another unsubstantiated assumption coming up.) that UKIP voters divide into a number of diverse groups.

- Retired or semi retired people seeking to reject the modern world and return to Michael Goves imaginary 1950s, they exhibit varying degrees of racism and homophobia. This group may account for the majority of their support.
- Anti EU obsessives, maybe the 25 percent of the party who view Europe as THE major issue of our times.
- Working poor who see pay and conditions eroded by migrants and find themselves locked out of the workplace by organised migration. This group may also exhibit degrees of racism but, unlike group 1, this may be a symptom of their current circumstances.

The first two groups can be considered, in my view, classic Tory voters and are in reality beyond saving ( Cameron's swivel eyed loons). The third group come from a more traditionally Labour voting background and are the reason why the poorer shires such as Lincolnshire are fertile ground for UKIP. This third group is the area Labour needs to focus efforts on.

This analysis suggests that any Labour strategy to deal with UKIP needs to tackle the thorny issue of immigration as it impacts people fighting hard to get jobs at the lower end of the market. The challenge is to find a way, within the EU, to level the playing field and give this community a shot at getting employment in the local economy. This is not an easy problem to solve, it is full of unintended consequences and powerful interests will fight against it; see the reaction to one relatively mild criticism from Labour of two large firms (Tesco and Next) both of whom seem to have a case to answer. However if Labour is to prevent UKIP from taking away votes it is a challenge they must take on.
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Re: The UKIP delusion and issues of migrant labour

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TechnicalEphemera wrote: Part 2 The problem of organised Migration - why it helps UKIP and how to limit it.

This is where it all gets pretty messy as we look in depth at some areas of immigration, which of course is an issue also exploited by racists. This article looks at agriculture, but similar issues exist in the packing and hospitality industries.

A major concern of UKIP voters is immigration, and particularly immigration from within the EU. The reason for this is not hard to understand when you look at what has happened to unskilled labour in agriculture in the last thirteen years.

This analysis of the problem in Lincolnshire was provided in the House Of Commons way back in 2003.

“Historically, labour providers used to employ labour from the immediate locality to bring in the harvest, but packagers, producers and the industry are now hugely dependent on migrant labour. The point must be made, however, that without that migrant labour the food industry would not be able to operate. It has been said that 95 % of the horticulture industry is now dependent on foreign labour. To give the House a sense of the scale of the problem, half of the 72,000 casual workers employed in the industry are provided by gangmasters. It has been calculated that 20,000 workers per annum are employed by the gangmaster system in a 16-mile stretch between Spalding and Boston, and a further 20,000 workers are employed in the stretch between Spalding and Ely. However, the real scale of the problem is unknown. It is out of control to such an extent that gangmasters travel to Europe to recruit workers directly.” - Mr. Mark Simmonds Gangmasters 10 minute rule Bill, 10 September, 2003

It is interesting to note that this was before the A8 countries of the EU were granted the right to work in the UK. Indeed it has been estimated that many of the first wave of A8 immigrants were already working in the UK (38 percent at least).

"As the UK granted free movement of workers to nationals of the A8 central and eastern European countries in May 2004, a substantial number of (irregular) workers were effectively regularised. A closer look at the data of the Worker Registration Scheme indicated that 26 per cent of applicants of the first cohort were in the UK prior to accession and another 12 per cent have chosen to disguise their arrival in the UK" [1]

Here is a more recent view of the same figures.

"Figures on the precise number of migrant workers operating in the UK are hard to pinpoint, largely because of the transient nature of the sectors involved, but recent research indicated that more than 80 per cent of all peak season agricultural workers are migrants. In 2009, the UK Border Agency estimated that at least 90,000 migrant workers had been active in the previous fours years within the agriculture industry, although the total is believed to be significantly higher as workers recruited by gangmasters and employment agencies were not included. Illegal migrants – some of who work within the sector – were also not accounted for." [2]

This raises two key issues: firstly in an economy with a lack of jobs how are local people (i.e. voters) going to find work? Secondly what will be the impact of reforming the system on employers?

It is clear that EU rules do not permit the banning of migrant labour from the A8, A10 and in the future A2 countries (Romania and Bulgaria). In theory that should simply add to the pool of labour looking for work, and local workers should be able to compete on equal terms. However, and here is the main reason for the resonance of the UKIP message, the reality is EU (and other migrants) lock local people out of jobs for a whole variety of reasons.

Firstly let's be absolutely crystal clear on what is driving organised migration in such a way it erodes the quality of life of the working classes. The answer predictably is employers (large and small) in hospitality, packing and agriculture - in the latter case it is worth noting the close links between these employers and the Tory party. When asked these employers want the following from their workforce:

- Hard working, which is often code for non unionised and compliant.
- Zero employment rights, i.e. they want the ability to hire and fire at will and to get rid of trouble makers.
- Short term casual labour, available quickly to meet demand peaks.
- Low cost, i.e. minimum wage or below.

The reality is these industries are simply not prepared to pay what it takes to make their jobs attractive to local people. So in times of high employment they turned to migrant labour and as unemployment has crept up they see no reason to use the local workforce. There is interview evidence that some employers seek out migrant labour, a sort of inverse racism. For example:

"Because of their great work ethic the demand for Eastern Europeans is huge and we have became very established in only supplying them and that's why clients come to us... a lot of my clients would never dream of taking on somebody who wasn't Eastern European, they just wouldn't entertain it because they are so different in that they have got a completely different mentality to the Brits where they don't feel that life owes them a living and they want to work and they have a completely different way of looking at things than we do and when you get people that are that hard working then why would you go anywhere else?' Samantha, director, labour provider firm, rural England" [3]

On the other hand the same report also reports an alternative view.

"‘Before the recession the soft fruit industry lost millions because crops were left in the field because there was no-one to pick them yet Dundee's got very high unemployment. So I'd say the biggest problem for us is in getting quality workers because if the economies of the Eastern European countries pick up then people from there might still come but they won't want to pick fruit and I can't see the locals wanting to do it. We would love it if the local population would come in and do the job and then go home at night because we wouldn't have to provide accommodation and things like that which cause us problems. But I don't know how'd we get the locals in, the government would have to take their benefits away I suppose'. Nadine, owner, soft fruit farm, rural Scotland " [3]

There are other reasons than employer preference and a desire to force wages to the floor why locals are often excluded. Large numbers of migrant labour provide a reliable source of income and profit for gangmasters, their associates and often family. In particular sub standard temporary accommodation and transport can turn healthy revenues and would not be services required by local labour. This of course makes sourcing migrant labour preferable to locally sourced employees from a temporary labour provider perspective. In 2004 the results of a survey into migrant labour in Lincolnshire reported the following.

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"73 % of the interviewed labour providers do not provide accommodation for their workers. 27 % provide accommodation.

Evidence gathered from the migrant worker survey suggests many gangmasters, after saying they do not supply accommodation, still work very closely with accommodation providers, who are sometimes family members.

The migrant worker survey found that 23.2 % of migrant workers who are working through labour providers have direct deductions made from their wages for accommodation and other services. " [4].
---
Similarly on transport.
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"When asked the question “Do you charge for transportation?” 36 % of the gangmasters interviewed said they are not allowed to do so because they have no PSV licence.

Of the 93.3 % gangmasters which provide transport for their workers, 36 % charge their employees. When comparing the gangmaster survey with the migrant worker survey, almost the same percentage (38.8 %) of migrant workers say they have been charged for transport.

If labour providers use a vehicle with more than eight passenger seats, they need a PSV Operator's Licence from the local Traffic Commissioner. " [4]
---

Incidentally despite lobbying of the government for a decade the requirement for a PSV license still stands and in fact the requirements have been tightened still further. It is now no longer permitted to deduct transport costs from wages, which the Gangmasters Alliance is trying to get reinstated, see http://www.thegangmastersalliance.co.uk" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ... tsolve.htm. Keep an eye out for that to be changed in a future red tape, i.e employment rights crack down ( Do UKIP have a policy on this I wonder).

So to summarise, we have in the UK an industry of minimum and sub minimum wage migrant labour, with no job security. This has the added bonus, from the labour providers view, of providing a semi captive market for add on services like accommodation and transport. Given this, it is hardly surprising that the local workforce feels excluded and discriminated against. Fertile ground of course for right wing populist and near racist politics of UKIP. However there are some clouds on the horizon for this nice money making operation.

A particular concern for this industry of minimum wage temporary labour is the EU. That's right - the EU - the very organisation that Farage blames for depriving local people of jobs. In particular two areas concern them, firstly as per all bad employers improved workers rights. Here is a view on the problems that this causes.

"‘The challenge now is how to deal with the incoming new legislation for temporary workers which is coming through next April [Temporary and Agency Workers Directive] because it means that after thirteen weeks employers have to make a commitment to their temps and give them the same benefits and salary and rights as permanent staff so my clients have told me they won't be using agency temps and they will just take someone on on an eleven week contract direct instead. So all this legislation is fine and it is all about protecting worker's rights but effectively what it is doing is spoiling the UKs flexible workforce because it is making temps more expensive'. " [3]

So in effect the EU is going to level the playing field for temporary staff ( Farage and Cameron definitely wouldn't approve) and an impact of that is that migration agency workers may lose out to the open market (in which locals can compete) - if the open market is prepared to sign away its rights on a fixed term contract.

An even bigger concern for these employers is that when Romanian and Bulgarians can work in the UK outside of SAWS (Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme) the wages and conditions on offer are so poor they will leave for better jobs. (In other words the dreaded A2 influx has already happened and is picking fruit - Cameron kept that quiet didn't he).

‘We can get the right people at the minute because Romanians and Bulgarians are restricted to working on farms but come the end of 2013 they will get freedom to work wherever they want in the UK and SAWS could well be abolished around then too and that will be a crunch time for agriculture because once we get past year one and year two of full working rights then I think that as we have seen with Spain and Portugal and now with Poland, Latvia and Lithuania that people will move away from agriculture so the sector will be short of workers'. Yoshi, chief executive, labour provider firm, rural England [3]

This is the reason that the very industry that backs the Conservative party is demanding more immigrant labour via a renewed SAWS; whilst abolishing the agricultural wages boards of course. This is a natural point of tension between a UKIP voter and the Tory party establishment which seeks the largest possible pool of low paid labour to maximise its profits. So far despite pressure Cameron has refused to renew SAWS, this combined with the A2 workers gaining access to the UK jobs market is likely to change things in the UK, one or more of the following can be expected to happen:

- Wages will rise in agriculture and conditions will improve.
- Gangmasters and by extension employers will turn to illegal labour to keep costs down.
- Supermarkets will import more food from abroad resulting in loss of capacity in agriculture.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the coming months.

So far this article has talked about the legal use of migrant labour, however exploitation does exist. A key weapon in the fight against it is the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA). An Ecologist article on exploitation of migrant labour looked at this in some detail.

---
"Between April 2010 and March 2011 the GLA uncovered more than 800 workers being exploited across the UK, prosecuted twelve companies and revoked the licences of 33 gangmasters, according to the organisations' latest annual report. And a number of major cases are forthcoming, including the prosecution of more than a dozen farmers in the dairy sector who are accused of using unlicensed labour. Arrests also recently followed a major operation into people trafficking in the North West.

But the agency faces a difficult period as spending cuts begin to bite. It has been hit by a number of funding reductions, including the slashing of funds for a network of community intelligence operations set up in cooperation with local councils. The GLA's most recent annual report notes that it 'faces a major challenge in seeking to prevent the exploitation of vulnerable workers with the prospect of fewer resources'.

Campaigners point to recent criminal cases as evidence of ongoing problems in the sector – and why the GLA's work is so vital: earlier this year, Northampton Crown Court heard allegations that Eastern European workers picking leeks for several major supermarket chains ‘were treated like slaves’, with workers ‘intimidated, threatened and beaten’ by gangmasters, and many workers housed in ‘squalor.’ " [2]
---

This level of exploitation to date would seem to be less common than the article suggests, to a large degree because of the role of the supermarkets who while being the chief culprits of low wages also seek to comply with employment law. Surveys within the agricultural sector suggests this has a significant impact.

"Interviewees reported that the supermarkets, in dominating the supply chain and insisting on checking that workers involved in producing the food that they sold on their shelves, actually had a positive impact on the industry in that they raised the standards of employment in that sector. However some interviewees reported that the role of the supermarkets was contradictory in that on one hand they insisted on workers in agribusiness being treated to strict minimum standards but at the same time they used their buying power to drive down the price that they paid producers for their product, meaning that their suppliers had to reduce their costs in order to remain profitable. As labour was the biggest cost to suppliers it is on this outgoing that producers sought to reduce expenditure, which in turn had a detrimental impact on the standards of employment for workers." [3]

However exploitation does go on and unscrupulous business practises like the use of umbrella companies to reduce tax payments cause problems by allowing bad employers to undercut good ones. This situation is only going to get worse. The GLA is the only effective regulator of this labour market but it is a victim of the war on employment rights AKA "red tape". Even when malfeasance has been uncovered the tradition reluctance of the courts to punish the wealthy is in play as the head of the agency recently bemoaned.

The following is from an Interview with the CEO of the GLA conducted for the Independent on Sunday by Emily Dugan on the 23rd June 2013.

---
"The fines for agencies and farmers exploiting staff are so small that they are seen as a “hazard of the job” and not a deterrent, Paul Broadbent, chief executive of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority said in an interview.

“Often the punishment doesn't fit the crime”, he said. “I'm as yet to fully understand why, with the Gangmasters Licensing Act, generally the punishments as far as I've seen have been unduly lenient.”

He cited two recent cases in Northern Ireland, where unlicensed gangmasters were fined £500, despite making more than £60,000 and £10,000 respectively from unscrupulous labour practices, including charging extortionate ‘finding fees’ to workers brought over from Eastern Europe."
---

So when Cameron cuts back on the GLA he is effectively giving the green light to allow importers of migrant labour to drive down conditions, and drive the local workforce even further into the mire.

In conclusion, UK agriculture has become dependent on low cost migrant labour, operating at or below minimum wage levels and performing demanding and seasonal manual work. Prices are kept low by the markets that agriculture is supplying, but some fairly large profits are being made. Local labour is effectively locked out of much of this labour market which feeds UKIP voting in the shires. However there is some evidence that even if it wasn't, the wages on offer would not be sufficient to induce local people to take on the work, at least in good economic times. The willingness of the Tory and Lib Dem government to erode the oversight of gangmasters is going to make things worse rather than better for local people, despite the best efforts of the EU to protect them.

What is clear at this point is the following.

- The actions of the EU help rather than hinder the UK workforce.
- If the EU migrants were removed, UK agriculture would not suddenly offer well paid jobs to the local population, it would either shrink in size or turn to illegal labour.
- The Tory agenda of reducing regulation (and the UKIP agenda of no regulation) is the exact opposite of what is required.

What is less clear is what could an incoming Labour government do about any of this.
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Re: The UKIP delusion and issues of migrant labour

Post by LadyCentauria »

TechnicalEphemera wrote: Part 3 - Tackling the problem.

It is now time to turn to the elephant in the room, the UK supermarkets (so the elephant could in fact be a very large horse painted grey with word elephant stencilled on it). Almost all of the problems with the UK agriculture sector can be traced back to them. The reason for this was summed up as long ago as 2003 in the paper "Food, Inc. Corporate concentration from farm to consumer" author B. Vorley, which states the following.

"Supply chains are developing in such a way that a large number of competitive and relatively powerless suppliers face a few large buyers. Farmers are playing to the rules of perfect competition while their customers are part of a complex monopoly."

The paper shows how the creation of bottlenecks with unregulated market power in the supply chain moves power into the hands of a small number of retailers, while farmers are placed in the role of easily substituted commodity suppliers. In the UK this leads to a situation where farmers are under constant pressure to lower prices from over mighty buyers. This has already been seen in testimony quoted earlier in this article.

The supermarkets are the force with market power that is driving UK farm prices down to a point where the only option is to use migrant labour. Of course they are doing this in the pursuit of cheap food that their customers can afford to buy. It is also important to note that supermarkets are a global problem and not just a UK/EU problem, however what is clear is their impact cannot be ignored when proposing solutions to the problems caused by the industry reliance on migrant labour.

In order to remove the reliance of the agriculture sector on migrant labour wages need to increase. However farmers can't increase their labour costs without putting up prices and that isn't an option because supermarkets have a complex monopoly that drives farm prices to the floor. Increasing UK farm prices may just cause them to switch to overseas suppliers, effectively driving UK farmers out of business. This will require a multi strand approach.

The first step to solving the problem is to remove structural barriers to local people entering the workforce; this will tackle a significant and understandable sense of injustice which should also be bad news for UKIP.

In effect this means levelling the playing field by removing the opportunity for cross subsidy in areas like accommodation and transport and rigorously enforcing the minimum wage and the EU directives (sorry Farage) on workers rights. The Tory party are fond of saying red tape gets in the way of business, so Labour should tie up the process of recruiting workers directly from the EU in tonnes of the red stuff. Since workers imported from poorer EU countries are often exploited, there is ample justification for enhanced oversight. Everything from enforcing minimum accommodation standards, maximum rents and banning charges for transport should be put into place, as well as tight tax inspection regimes, and onerous immigration compliance requirements.

The next stage to solving the issues is to introduce draconian enforcement, increase the funding for the GLA and make sure businesses caught abusing the system not only suffer fines but have their assets seized and their directors go to jail. This is exploitation of the poor and vulnerable, the very worst of predatory capitalism, so let's treat them as the lowest sort of criminals. These measures of regulation and enforcement should price companies that organise migrant labour from overseas out of the market, without restricting the rights of EU nationals to work in the UK.

Having created the conditions for local workers to compete for jobs, a Labour government has a duty to ensure that they will enter the jobs market, and here sadly Labour needs to model their welfare more on Liam Byrne and less on Michael Foot. While providing a living wage Labour should be prepared to sanction the unemployed who won't take a job in the agricultural sector when offered it. However since the work is by its nature seasonal Labour should recognise that this is not presenting many of the unemployed with genuine career options and it should ensure that longer term training and support are provided to enable them either to progress to more secure work within agriculture or to seek alternative careers. This must not be workfare, it must be paid employment, otherwise it becomes part of the problem of labour exploitation.

These solutions will not fix the problem, which remains farmers are paid too little for their products by over mighty supermarkets but they start to address the structural biases against the local workforce. To solve the underlying problem it is time for a Labour government to step up to the plate and launch a top to bottom reform of the supermarket ecosystem and the impact on the market for agricultural product.

Labour should seek to break the supply bottlenecks that lead to complex monopolies in the market and to re-balance the system in favour of farmers. In doing so Labour should finally embrace the community of small farmers, this will be a shock to both sides, but maybe - just maybe - they will find common ground.

The problem with this is that if supermarkets retain local production (as Labour should demand), then they will be paying more for it, which means food prices must go up. This is unlikely to be popular and given the number of people struggling hand to mouth in coalition Britain it risks creating real suffering. However there is some evidence that, with the impact of climate change on weather patterns, and the growth of China, this price adjustment is already happening.The Mirror reported the following on the 3rd of August 2013.

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"Supermarket prices have soared by more than twice the rate of inflation to six per cent in a year, a survey for the Sunday Mirror reveals.

And some everyday items have increased even faster with the cost of fresh meat rising by 18 per cent, cheddar cheese 12.2 per cent and fruit 10.4 per cent. Bread is up 5.3 per cent.

Website mySupermarket’s Real Shopper Spend Index based its figures on the cost of 100,000 goods on sale at Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and online retailer Ocado."
---

Furthermore an analysis of UK farm gate prices shows that in the 12 months from May 2012 to May 2013 the price index for all outputs (goods produced by farms) increased by 11.8 percent, while the price index for all inputs (goods consumed to produce output) increased by only 4.6 percent (source Defra May Agricultural Price Index for May 2013). This analysis is further backed up by the CEO of Tesco Philip Clarke who admitted in an interview given to the Observer, (Jay Rayner Sunday 21 July 2013) that prices were heading upwards.

"Over the long run I think food prices and the proportion of income spent on food may well be going up," he said. "Because of growing demand it is going to change. It is the basic law of supply and demand."

Rayner also reported that Philip Clarke had gone on the record to promise that Tesco would look to source more food locally and offer better deals to British farmers.

Since food price rises are inevitable, if the industry experts are to be believed; then the challenge for a Labour government would be to ensure that these price rises are passed on first to the farm producers, and that they then make their way into the pay and conditions of the farm workforce. The supermarkets demand a lean supply chain and their share of the revenue should be reduced accordingly.

Conclusions

The challenge of the rise of UKIP in the rural parts of the UK can be met by tackling the excessive use of migrant labour by agriculture and its supporting industries. This can only be removing the cost benefits of employing migrant workers through regulation of the industry and strict enforcement of EU employment rules. If food prices rise then Labour must ensure that the farmers and ultimately their workforce receive the benefits and these margins are not siphoned off into the pockets of offshore multinationals.

The answers of increased regulation of migrant labour, draconian enforcement of EU employment law, and close market supervision to eliminate market distortions are not in the Tory, UKIP or Liberal policy book. So the question needs to be asked of their working class voters, do you want to get angrier or wealthier?

If Labour can show them how their conditions can be improved only by turning against the free market fundamentalism of UKIP then it will win their votes. Importantly having won them it needs to prove by deeds not words that the centre left alternative to UKIP can deliver. It will not be easy to achieve this, powerful multinationals will fight this tooth and nail and use their media friends to kick out at any suggestion they might be exploiting their workers. Stronger and harder characters than Chris Bryant are required to lead the line.

However Ed Miliband should ignore those who claim addressing this area is a mistake, and remember what the people he met on his town centre travels told him. Ignore the Westminster media, toughen up the team and sharpen the attack. It is the right fight and now is the time to have it.
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Re: The UKIP delusion and issues of migrant labour

Post by LadyCentauria »

TechnicalEphemera wrote: References

[1] Counting the Uncountable. Data and Trends across Europe - Bastian Vollmer December 2008

[2] The Ecologist - News investigation Bitter harvest: how exploitation and abuse stalks migrant workers on UK farms Andrew Wasley - 10th October, 2011

[3] East-Central European migration to the UK: policy issues and employment circumstances from the perspective of employers and recruitment agencies - David McCollum and Allan Findlay April 2012 Centre for Population Change Working Paper.

[4] The Dynamics of Migrant Labour in South Lincolnshire Prepared by Drasute Zaronaite and Alona Tirzite. 2004.
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This time, I'm gonna be stronger I'm not giving in...
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