Tuesday, 23 June 2009

"Foreman says these jobs are going, boys, and they ain't coming back, to your hometown..."

Well, this might be shaping up to be a real summer of discontent after all:
Workers building a Teesside biofuels plant have walked out for a third time in support of sacked strikers at an oil refinery in Lincolnshire.
I have a certain amount of sympathy for the workers if it turns out they are being priced out of the market in favour of cheaper foreign workers, as Ranting Stan believes, and that's obviously something for the government to resolve with tax breaks and concessions.

But I can't help but agree with Blue Eyes and Patently that we need to evolve out of dependence on these jobs, and diversify into other markets too, in order to protect our competitive edge.

Because even if (when) Call-Me-Dave takes the reins, most decisions are taken far beyond these shores now. And replacing the man in the big chair, and all his minions in the little chairs, isn't going to have much material effect on the economy.

10 comments:

Blognor Regis said...

Broooce!

Sue said...

I read a few blog postings on this. My opinion is.. these factories/plants are being build in our environment. They are spoiling our environment where we live. The least we can expect is to participate in the rewards of having such an eyesore in our vicinities.

If that means jobs and feeding our families, so be it, let the government intervene by changing the minimum wage requirement and subsidising the workers.

These are hard times (I am not socialist but a realist and a humanist) and people need jobs. The alternative is the dole, which does nobody any good psychologically.

ranter said...

I don't agree with Blue Eye's view on this but to be honest have had difficulty focusing on the issues without my head wanting to explode. As for diversifying and not being reliant I can't see into what and how! If there was a level playing field across the globe there would be no problem in free movement of Labour but there isn't, not even across Europe. The UK really can't cope with any more people and it cannot go on funding people who have never and will never make a full contribution to the UK financially, nor can we continue to treat the world via the NHS etc etc. My sympathies are with the power workers etc on this one.

Stan said...

I've said this a number of times before, but I'll keep saying it. In a global free market our industry is not the only thing that will struggle to compete with cheaper overseas competitors - so will we as workers. Over the last three decades we have seen much of our industry up sticks from these shores and move abroad - because labour is cheaper and there are fewer constraints on employers.

In the last decade we have seen millions of foreign people come into this country as immigrants and they are prepared to work for less money than we are.

And now, with this latest move, employers are bypassing the normal employment process altogether and shipping in cheap foreign workers to our shores - these are not immigrants - to do a job not because they are any better, but because they are cheaper.

As I keep trying to tell people, the ultimate conclusion of this must be that the average wage in Britain - and with it the average living standard - has to fall to somewhere closer to the global average wage. And that is not £25000 a year. It's not even £10,000.

That HAS to happen because that is how markets work when left to their own devices - they find a level. People keep clinging to this ridiculous idea of "comparative advantage" - but what do you or I have as individuals that give us a "comparative advantage" in a global job market? Are we any more intelligent that Indian or Chinese workers? Do we work harder? Are we any better qualified?

The answer, of course, is that there isn't any comparative advantage in the jobs market.

So if your happy with cheap foreign workers taking British jobs from British workers then fine - get used to the idea of living without a lot of the stuff you take for granted today. Like decent healthcare, education, defence, sanitation and so on - because with a lower median wage we will have considerably lower tax revenues and considerably less money to pay the public sector workers who won't be giving up their £25000 a year jobs and gold plated pensions so easily

Blue Eyes said...

I have some sympathy with people's plight as well I am not a naturally vindictive person, but the strikers are focussing the blame on the wrong people, are coming up with the wrong solutions.

British industry will only recover and thrive in a low tax, low regulation environment. The strikers and their supporters want a high tax, high regulation environment which will make things worse and encourage more companies to take on cheaper labour and to move their businesses abroad.

I wish I had put that point in my post now!

Blue Eyes said...

we will have considerably lower tax revenues and considerably less money to pay the public sector workers

This is a desirable outcome, one which we should aim for no matter what.

Stan said...

Yes, BE, it is a desirable outcome, but you left off the part about how they will not give up their high wages and pensions as meekly and easily as those in the private sector will (have to).

And actually, I'm not adverse to paying public sector workers competitive wages - I just question whether we need quite as many as we do and whether a lot of that money could not be spent better elsewhere.

JuliaM said...

"Broooce!"

It is summer... ;)

"..let the government intervene by changing the minimum wage requirement.."

If that would encourage companies to look to home-based jobseekers, rather than cheaper foreign ones, I'd be all for it.

"The UK really can't cope with any more people and it cannot go on funding people who have never and will never make a full contribution to the UK financially..."

Agreed. But to do that, we have to leave the EU.

JuliaM said...

"Over the last three decades we have seen much of our industry up sticks from these shores and move abroad - because labour is cheaper and there are fewer constraints on employers."

Which is where government should step in and assist, by relaxing the rules. I agree, with the EU setting many of the laws now, it's trying to fight with one hand tied behind your back...

"..they will not give up their high wages and pensions as meekly and easily as those in the private sector.."

With the dire news coming out re: pensions today, somebody needs to bite that bullet. And fast!

Von Spreuth. said...

This is not just a problem of "Foriegn§" workers. When they rebuilt the New Brighton shore defences they promised THOUSANDS of construction jobs for local workers.

What happened?

All the places were advertised in Newcastle and except for a few office cleaners, not ONE job went to a local.

And THAT was under T******r.

It is the fault of the bosses. There needs to be laws put in place that ensure that any jobes are first offered to locals.

Von Brandenburg-Preußen.