Labour leader David Miliband has responded to recent concerns raise by his own Shadow Cabinet over migrant workers pushing down wages in the UK by pledging that he will act on low pay for migrants if Labour wins the next General Election.
Mr Miliband was responding to concerns raised by Labour Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper that UK nationals might be out-priced of the jobs market by migrants willing to work for low pay.
Mr Miliband has said it is not “prejudiced” to have concerns over migrant workers undercutting UK workers in jobs by working for low wages – and is promising to close the loophole under which migrant workers are exploited by bosses seeking to recruit cheap labour.
The lifting of restrictions on Bulgaria and Romania has fuelled debate about wages in the UK, with some leading bosses saying more migrant workers happy to work long hours for low wages would help boost UK companies and the economy. Chief Executive of Ocado Sir Stuart Rose – formerly CEO of Marks and Spencer – was one boss who came out in favour of more migrant workers coming to the UK.
The pushing down of wages in the UK at a time when workers and their families are facing hardship is an issue Mr Miliband said Labour would address.
Many migrant workers take jobs which would otherwise be hard to fill, however – such as seasonal work like fruit picking and packing.
Bosses in favour of allowing more migrant workers into the UK say their willingness to work hard for lower wages than UK workers is what makes hiring them attractive to UK employers.
However, Mr Miliband has said he would end the UK’s “chronic dependency” on cheap labour from abroad if Labour wins the next election.
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