The End of Migration

Liberal Conspiracy carries an interesting piece by Jennifer O’Mahony on a continental campaign that encourages immigrants into one-day strikes. The idea is to make people realise the dependence of successful economies on migrant labour.

From the article:

Peggy Derder, Nadir Dendoune and Nadia Lamarkbi, three French professionals in their thirties, hit upon the idea of la journée sans immigrés, or the day without immigrants, after years of endless police checks and discrimination. The trio were encouraging anyone who is an immigrant, of immigrant origin, or who feels solidarity with immigrants and wanted to contest their treatment to take these three simple measures for just one day. In a political system where there are no black or Arab representatives, despite the fact that these minorities make up 10% of the population, people of immigrant origin wanted to make their invisibility and silence symbolically evident in workplaces around France.

Their aim was to make their compatriots see how different their country would look and sound if France’s minorities did not exist. The demonstration also sought to highlight the economic contribution that minorities make, and the range of industries they operate within France. Demonstrators were hoping to empty offices, stop public transport and close stores. The idea quickly spread and similar demonstrations were seen in Spain, Italy, and Greece.

The journée sans immigrés allowed French people to see how integral immigrants have become to their nation, and what would be lost if they, and their French born descendants, were not a part of France’s ethnic landscape.

Mme Kecheroud expressed her hope to build on the success of the first demonstration in the run up to a repeat next year:

‘We are now taking stock after the success of our first ‘Day Without Immigrants.’ We are now intending to go further with our new perspective, in particular through the forthcoming creation of a vigilance committee. But we will be sure to do our best again to continue this great event next year. Immigration is badly considered and not seen as it really is: an asset. A large proportion of France, and of Europe relies on it.’

What would a UK migrant strike look like? Possibly we can get an idea from a recent reality TV show that did a similar experiment for the BBC. Lucy Mangan watched the results:

The Day the Immigrants Left, presented by Evan Davies (BBC1), went to Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, a town with thousands of eastern European workers and 2,000 local people on the dole. The producers arranged for 12 of the latter to replace 12 of the former for two days to see if they were as ready, willing and able to work at anything as a) they claimed and b) their immigrant counterparts were.

Half turned up late or not at all. ‘I won’t do a job I don’t find very interesting,’ said 26-year-old Lewis, who has been unemployed for five years and was supposed to go to a potato factory. ‘I do feel a little bit pressurised to get a job, but it’s not to the point that I can just take any job that comes.’ Those that did eventually arrive were a woeful sight. Paul and Terry insisted that the potato-sorting machines had been set deliberately fast (they had actually been slowed down to accommodate the two trainees), one of many examples from the British workers of a persistent and fatally crippling sense of grievance and entitlement.

Carpenter Dean reacted with fury to his Lithuanian supervisor’s instructions to use screws rather than a nail gun, which would take longer but make his plasterboard work stand firm. Ashley quit his restaurant job halfway through his first lunchtime on his first day and then sat down happily to eat the meal offered by his saintly employer Ali.

You looked in vain for a glimmer of shame or embarrassment in any of them, but came up emptyhanded. You could try to tell yourself that their attitudes masked the insecurities that come with unemployment, and at times Davies bent over backwards to put a better gloss on their behaviour: at one point, he tried to suggest to the farm owner that availability of foreign labour had made employers lazy when it came to ‘coaxing and motivating’ local workers. But it was hard not to suspect, as you watched the infuriating dozen, stunned by the prospect of physical labour, resentful of any advice, childish and utterly unmotivated by the presence of a television crew or the knowledge that even their greatest perceived sufferings would be over within 48 hours, that the natives might just be revolting.

(Image via Guardian)


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