Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Workers of the world, unite!

Riding on the back of T's last post, here's Socialist Worker Online with what should be a very obvious point:

They are right to want to fight this recession. But the central slogan of the current wave of strike action, “British jobs for British workers”, targets the wrong people and points in a dangerous direction.

Any demand framed in terms of “putting British workers first” inevitably paints another set of workers – “foreign workers” – as the problem.

It pits British workers against Italian, Portuguese and Polish workers. It seeks gains for one group at the expense of the other.

But “foreign workers” are not to blame for mounting unemployment, rampant subcontracting or worsening pay and conditions on construction sites.

The blame for these things lies squarely with the bosses – of whatever nationality – aided and abetted by neoliberal politicians such as trade secretary Lord Mandelson, the high priest of the free market.

The slogan “British jobs for British workers” was used by Gordon Brown in his 2007 speech to New Labour’s conference. As many pointed out at the time, it has a bad track record.

It was used in the 1930s by Oswald Mosley’s fascist blackshirts to justify attacks on Jewish workers in east London and elsewhere. It was used by the National Front in the 1970s to try and force black and Asian workers out of their jobs.

These attempts to play the race card to divide workers have always been cheered on by the right, by successive governments and by the bosses.
And the capitalists have us just where they want us...

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