Migrant workers in 2014: truth and lies…

My parents are Irish and came to this country to find work. They did not want to stay here or rather my Dad did not. He always believed he would return to Ireland until he met my mother and had children.

My mother is quite different. She left Ireland to taste freedom. Her words. In 1947 she came to Manchester to find work, somewhere to live and escape a society in Ireland that had limited roles for women and with nothing but exploitative and poorly paid work.

Mum and her cousins in Manchester in 1947

Mum and her cousins in Manchester in 1947

As an elderly disabled woman living in east Manchester she is now being cared for by the latest flow of foreign workers: women from diverse places including Dutch Guiana, Jamaica and the Congo, as well as the local white working class women.

Care workers are some of the poorest paid people in the labour market. It is usually the minimum wage, being paid only for the hours worked, and working on zero hours contracts. It says so much about what is deemed as “women’s work” and nothing about the valuable job they do. But they are not alone as migrant workers make up a significant number of low paid workers.

Recent figures from the ONS/Migrants Advisory Committee July 2014 showed that 236,000 people were on low pay of which 11.3% were migrant workers.

UKIP are setting the agenda for the debate on migrant workers. Nigel Farrage believes that the ONS figures showing a rise in foreign workers by 292,000 in one year shows that the Con/Dem policy of immigration has been an “abject failure.”

Every party is having its say about migrant/foreign workers but what is their experience? And what do the people whom they work with and care for think?

I have proposed an article for the online monthly magazine Contributoria on these issues called “Migrant workers in Manchester: the truth behind the xenophobia”

In this article I will look at the reality behind those figures for an economy that needs foreign workers to provide some of our most essential services. I will be interviewing a care assistant from Dutch Guyana and a nurse from Spain. I will also be looking at the lives of present day Irish woman who like my mother came to this country for work.

What is the reality of their lives in an increasingly xenophobic Britain? Do the people they care for object to being cared for by a foreign migrant worker?

My intention is to show that the UK has always had a flow in and out of foreign workers and that there is nothing new about politicians using it to justify their political ends.

Please vote for my article at Contributoria, I need another 820 points

About lipstick socialist

I am an activist and writer. My interests include women, class, culture and history. From an Irish in Britain background I am a republican and socialist. All my life I have been involved in community and trade union politics and I believe it is only through grass roots politics that we will get a better society. This is reflected in my writing, in my book Northern ReSisters Conversations with Radical Women and my involvement in the Mary Quaile Club. .If you want to contact me please use my gmail which is lipsticksocialist636
This entry was posted in feminism, human rights, Ireland, Irish second generation, labour history, Manchester, political women, trade unions, Uncategorized, women and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Migrant workers in 2014: truth and lies…

  1. huddspeace says:

    Hi LS,

    Thanks for all your articles over the past year – really well written, concise and informative – connecting local life with the national and international.

    Have voted for you too on Contributa

    In peace & friendship, Robin


  2. Andrew Coates says:

    I’d like to agree with Huddspeace – an excellen Blog.

    And the point about migrant workers’ is well taken.

    But then my Scottish Grandmother was called Kelly….

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