No-one accuses non-unionised workers of driving down wages by taking low-paid jobs. So why are migrant workers who do accused of undermining pay and conditions? Migrants just want to earn a living and, like everyone, would love to have better pay and conditions. Many of them would like to organise to improve pay and conditions for all.
Immigration controls prevent people working legally and make them vulnerable to super-exploitation. The direct effect is to undermine the pay and conditions of migrants, and then all workers. To improve pay and conditions in sectors where there are many migrant workers, offer them solidarity. Organise with them and oppose immigration controls which hinder resistance.
Immigration controls can’t stop immigration - they don’t work, but politicians continually try to step them up. They are a workplace issue. Employers are now obliged to ensure all their workers can work legally or face five-figure fines. Systematic checks on National Insurance numbers and documents are being carried out.
Many underhand tactics are used, including calling workers in for a fake “health and safety meeting”. Instead, police and immigration officials carried out paper checks, then detained and deported workers without them. The Border and Immigration Agency have carried out aggressive raids, sometimes involving armed police, in order to brand migrants as dangerous. The latter is a tried-and-trusted tactic to create suspicion and fear among those who might otherwise object to the treatment of vulnerable people.
The key to improving the lot of all workers is to improve that of the most vulnerable - undocumented migrant workers. The tools we need are class solidarity, internationalism and direct action. Oppose all immigration controls.