No More Low-Wage Immigration, U.K., Canada, Tell Ceos

Neil Munro, Daily Caller, December 16, 2013

Public opposition to high immigration in the United Kingdom has forced the establishment Conservative Party to propose cutting annual work-related immigration down to 75,000.

The country’s opposition to the immigrant inflow is so heated that a government minister has even urged employers to attract needed British workers by offering higher salaries, and to give up relying on low-skill, low-wage workers from Poland or Pakistan.

The minister’s jarring comments came after the CEO of Domino’s Pizza in the U.K. said last week that the country should import more low-wage immigrants to prepare and deliver pizzas.

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“He should perhaps pay his staff a little more, then he might find it easier to recruit them,” responded Mark Harper, the immigration minister. ”If he’s having trouble recruiting labour, I don’t think we should import relatively unskilled labour from outside [Europe] just so that he can keep his wages low,” Harper told a parliamentary hearing.

Batchelor “runs a profitable business [and so] he should pay what the market demands,” the minister said.

The conservative politician’s put-down of a business leader contrasts with politicians’ actions in the United States.

Since June, nearly all Democratic legislators and some Republican legislators have backed a Senate-drafted immigration bill that would triple the legal inflow of low-wage laborers into a stalled economy.

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The British minister’s put-down was delivered as the country’s Conservative Party is being forced by rising public opposition to back away from its pro-immigration policies, which are strongly supported by British industry.

A weekend poll showed the conservatives with only 30 percent of the vote, while the United Kingdom Independence Party won 16 percent of the vote.

UKIP wants the country to leave the European Union, and to reduce the inflow of immigrants. It has grown rapidly during the last decade, mostly by winning voters from the more centrist Conservative Party.

To win back those voters from the UKIP, Conservative Party leaders leaked a report late last week outlining a new plan that would renegotiate European treaties to slash work-related immigration from European Union countries to 75,000 a year.

The report was prepared by the U.K.’s Home Office, which is similar to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The report also called for exclusion of low-skilled labors from poor countries, and tighter curbs on high-skilled immigrants from Germany and other wealthy countries.

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If the Conservative Party manages to set an immigration cap at 75,000, it would place U.K. work-related immigration at roughly one-fifth the per-capita rate in the United States. The U.S. accepts roughly 1 million immigrations per year, and also awards roughly 650,000 temporary work permits to guest-workers each year, even though 20 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed.

Because of public pressure, the U.K.’s main left-of-center party, the Labor Party, has also reversed its outspoken support for immigration, and has moved its polling numbers up to 37 percent.

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Canada’s conservative government is also cracking down in the use of imported low-skill labor.

“The single most powerful tool employers have to address labour skill shortages is raising wage levels,” Jason Kenney, the employment minister in Canada’s conservative government, told business leaders in mid-November.

The country’s guest-worker program “must not, cannot be a first option” he told the business leaders, as he urged them to increase training of their workers. “It must only and always be a last option for employers.”

Kenney suggested the business leaders were being deceptive when they claimed they were suffering from a worker shortage.

“Wage levels have barely kept pace with inflation, and yet every single business organization, industry group, sector council and employer in the country with whom I met tells us one of their top strategic challenges now and certainly into the future is skill and labour shortages,” he scoffed.

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