Mr Boris Johnson
Mayor of London
Greater London Authority
The Queen’s Walk
London SE1 2AA
Telephone: 020 7983 4100
Minicom: 020 7983 4458
Fax: 020 7983 4057
17 5 2012
Dear Mr Johnson ,
Shortly after you were re-elected as Mayor you made a promise to conduct “an honest and unflinching” investigation “ into why London jobs are overwhelming going to foreigners (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9249748/Why-do-foreigners-get-all-the-jobs-asks-Boris-Johnson.html). Let me explain why it is happening.
1. Loss of control of Britain’s borders. Britain has given away control over its borders through membership of the EU, the signing of treaties relating to the European Convention on Human Rights and the UN Convention on Refugees and the passing of the Human Rights Act. Regain control of our borders and the problem is solved, because then foreigners can be excluded from British jobs.
2. The costs and control of workers. British Employers find foreign workers are cheaper to employ (see 3), easier to control and less difficult to lay off.
3. Immigrants generally have less responsibilities than Britons. The rapidly rising property prices and rents and falling wages often make it impossible for a Briton who has social obligations such as a family to support to take those jobs because they do not provide the means to support a family. Most of the immigrants who have come in in recent years, especially those from Eastern Europe, are young men with no obligations beyond supporting themselves. They are able , even on the minimum wage (many are working cash in hand and pay no tax and National Insurance) , to save a few thousand per year and that money in their own country is worth multiples of what it is worth in Britain. Accordingly, immigrant workers can work for a few years in Britain and save enough to buy a property in their own country. (Give Britons the chance to go abroad and earn enough to buy a house in Britain and you will be trampled in the rush). In short, there is not a level playing field between British and foreign workers.
4. Illegal immigrants. A substantial proportion of the jobs, especially the low and unskilled, are going to illegal immigrants who are even more vulnerable to demands from employers . As a retired Inland Revenue officer I can vouch from my personal experience that there are huge numbers of illegal immigrants working in London.
5. Foreign gangmasters . Where gangmasters and their ilk are used they are often foreign and only recruit people of their own nationality, race, religion or culture.
6. Foreign companies and multinationals in Britain bring in their own people . (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/9111116/30000-foreign-workers-entered-UK-under-transfer-schemes.html)
7. Companies run by ethnic minorities in Britain. They have a strong tendency to bring in from abroad people of their own ethnic background. Especially strong instances of this are the London Rag Trade and ethnic restaurants.
6. Employment by word of mouth – When foreign workers gain a foothold in a business they recommend people they know for jobs there or encourage their friends and acquaintances to apply for jobs. Being foreign, the people they recommend will normally be other foreigners, especially those of their own nationality. It does not take long for a place of work to become largely or wholly foreign staffed with this type of recruitment.
Sometimes the employer colludes with the foreign staff to exclude Britons, for example, Pret a Manger, who have next to no rank-and-file British staff working in London use as part of their selection process a vote by the staff of a shop where a potential trainee has had a trial as to whether the trialist should be taken on. It does not take too much imagination to suspect that foreign workers will work for other foreign workers if there is a choice between them and a Briton. (http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/lifestyle/article-24030067-why-cant-a-brit-get-a-job-at-pret.do)
8. Corrupt practices. Agencies which supply foreign workers and the British people doing the hiring enter into a corrupt arrangement whereby the Britons ensure foreigners are recruited and receive a kickback for that from the agencies who supply the labour. The agency supplying the foreign workers gains through the fees for finding and supplying the foreign staff paid by the employing company. Public service organisations and large companies are especially vulnerable because of the numbers of staff they employ. ( http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2094103/UK-unemployment-As-British-jobless-toll-soars-bosses-recruit-thousands-Romania.html)
Phone-ins, social networking and the individual experience of those around us tell the same story: there are very large numbers of Britons desperate for work, often any work, who just cannot find any. Again and again people who are articulate and sincere tell of how they have tried for dozens, sometimes hundreds of jobs without getting even an interview. Many of those looking for work are graduates.
Media reports of employers getting large numbers of applicants for even menial jobs are a regular feature( http://www.londonlovesbusiness.com/25-people-chase-every-job-in-some-areas-of-london/423.article). Many new graduates are finding that they have been sold a pup about the increased employability of those with a degree and are lucky to find any sort of job. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/jan/26/fifth-graduates-unemployed-ons).
The claims by British employers that they are employing foreign workers because they cannot find suitable people is hard to credit. Even if there was a problem with the attitude of young Britons, for which I see no evidence as a general problem, it would not explain why older workers with a good work history are being overlooked. In particular, it is implausible that foreign workers are better equipped for jobs dealing with the public because experience tells any Briton living in London that many foreigners employed in such jobs have wholly inadequate English and a lack of knowledge about British culture.
During the Blair/Brown bubble years there may have been an element of Britons being unwilling to do some of the menial low paid jobs, but in our present dire financial straits that cannot be the case now even for low-skilled workers.
As for people not being prepared to do run-of-the-mill jobs for all of their lives, this is what used to happen routinely and, indeed, many people continue to do just that today. Nor is this something restricted to the unskilled. Any skilled craftsman – a builder, plumber or carpenter – or someone with a skill such as HGV driving will do the same basic job all their lives unless they choose to go to another form of employment. The fact they are skilled does not necessarily make the job intrinsically interesting , although it will be better paid generally than those in a low or unskilled employment. It is also a mistake to imagine that skilled jobs which are non-manual are generally fulfilling or prestigious. A country solicitor dealing largely with farm leases and conveyancing or a an accountant spending most of their time preparing final accounts are scarcely enjoying working lives of wild excitement . The truth is most jobs, regardless of their skill level, are not intrinsically interesting to the people who do them, the interest in working arising from the money reward and the social interaction which comes with the work.
Nor is it true that unskilled and low-skilled jobs are diminishing. The large majority of jobs today, require little or no specialised training. Very few retail jobs involve a detailed knowledge of the product; driving a vehicle other than an HGV comes with the possession of an ordinary driving licence; undertaking a routine clerical task can be done almost immediately by someone who is literate.
The existence of low-skilled or unskilled work has a positive benefit beyond the work itself. It provides a means of independent living for the least able. In Britain the average IQ is 100. Because of the way that IQ is distributed – in a good approximation of normal distribution – 10% of the population has an IQ of 80 or lower. An IQ of 80 is thought by most experts in the field of intelligence testing to be the point at which an individual begins to struggle to live an independent life in an advanced industrial society such as Britain. Without low-skilled and unskilled work the low IQ individual is left with no means to live an in independent life. That means in all probability a heavy dependency on benefits with a likelihood of antisocial behaviour because they cannot live a life of normal social responsibility. Full employment is a social good which goes far beyond the overt material product of the employment.
The first responsibility of a government in a democracy must by definition be to promote the well-being of its citizens above those of foreigners. The most fundamental part of that duty is to ensure as far as is humanly possible that jobs are available to its citizens which capable of supporting a person in a normal life, including raising a family. To think of the world as a single marketplace with labour, goods and services drawn from wherever is cheapest or most immediately available, is to reduce Britain to no more than a residence of convenience which can be used for the purposes of the individual without any concern for Britain as a society.
And here is Johnson’s non-reply:
RE: MGLA210512-2961 Why foreigners take all the jobs
Dear Mr Henderson,
Thank you for your email to the Mayor of London regarding a recent article that he wrote in the Telegraph seeking to address why Londoners are failing to compete successfully for the jobs created by this great City. Please accept my response on behalf of the Mayor.
London is the most prosperous city-region in the UK and a key driver of the national economy, drawing in talent from across the globe. London’s openness to ideas and to people is essential to continuing our economic success. Yet too many Londoners are not sharing in the city’s opportunities. To understand why a large number of Londoners are currently not able to compete successfully the Mayor announced in the Telegraph his intention to commission further work through his Education Inquiry, led by Munira Mirza, Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture, to further focus on why young Londoners are not getting the jobs they need. Additionally he has asked his business led London Enterprise Panel to explore how the Greater London Authority working with stakeholders can enable Londoners of all ages to compete successfully with both international and domestic migrants for employment opportunities.
We are very grateful for the time you have taken to outline your views and suggestions and will take these into account when exploring these very important issues further over the coming weeks.