David Cameron was today (Friday 28 November) accused of attempting to save his political skin by attacking workers while doing nothing to rein in employers who exploit European labour to keep wages low.
Unite, the UK's largest union, decried the prime minister for doing nothing to correct the problems in the UK economy that has seen some of its sectors become reliant on low pay, pointing to the example of Germany which has greater levels of immigration but protections on wages.
Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: "Today David Cameron did not act as a prime minister but as a low grade scrapper, trying to save his political skin by kicking migrant workers.
"He knows he cannot please his big business paymasters who want free access to European workers and the profits that come from their hard work on low wages.
"Instead he inflames a fear of European workers, proposing to cement them as a second class workforce with no access to the assistance that millions of low paid workers in this country simply need to make ends meet.
"Too many UK employers are addicted to welfare to top up their low waged workforce. It is not migrants that are dragging down pay, but boardrooms that are holding it down.
“Why does he not tackle this by ensuring that collective bargaining can safeguard wages? Look at Germany, which has far greater levels of immigration than the UK but which has laws to protect decent wages.
"What the prime minister did today was to send out a message that the problems in our economy are the fault of workers, wherever they come from. This is a lie. It is not migrant workers who recruit in Poland, or force zero hours work upon people desperate for a job.
“It is not migrant workers who have sold off council homes, cut our Sure Start places, brought ruin to our NHS, or have forced the greatest collapse in living standards in generations.
“It is business behaviour and political decisions that are causing insecurity, not ordinary people trying to make a living.
"UK unions like Unite now have to redouble efforts to prevent the division that the prime minister is causing from taking root.
"Yet again, working people are encouraged to believe that the fault is with them, not those with their hands on the levers of our economy.
"We urge the parties now, no arms race on migration, but real action to address the chronic insecurity people endure and which is getting worse under this government."
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors:
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey