The actions of wildcat strikers, in reaction to the employment of foreign workers at Lindsey Refinery, are at best absurd, and at worst a shameful indication that flagrant xenophobia is acceptable in Britain today.
Although at first glance it is hard to see why a French-owned refinery in the UK would choose to import Italian labour, rather than employing from the area local to the refinery, the reality of the situation is extremely simple. The creation of the positions was done so by an Italian company, working for the refinery as a sub-contractor; why should they be forced to take on staff from another country, if those in the UK are so vehemently against the idea? For such a vocally determined group of protesters, those on strike are remarkably hypocritical.
To put it another way, it’s very easy to pull up an example of an entire UK industry that makes the most of the Common Market in the very way that strikers are objecting to. British tour operators export UK staff to foreign countries every year; entire resorts are filled with staff who are alien to the region (I should know, I was one before university). It creates fantastic job opportunities abroad, and thanks to the EC, there’s no need to worry about visas or work permits. Narrow-minded nationals here are complaining about similar business practices occurring in Britain – a good way to start picking at the threads of an established method of doing business that works, and has done so for a number of years.
Worryingly, the figurehead of the cry ‘British jobs for British workers’ is the man leading our country. His bizarre pledge in 2007 has adorned placards all across the UK, with sympathy strikes sharing the same bizarre notion that a Brit has more right to a job than anyone else. Quite what possessed Brown to utter these words is anyone’s guess – they read more like a BNP pamphlet than the speech notes of the Prime Minister – but the result has been the encouragement of a truly backwards frame of mind, in relation to those who are legitimately allowed to work and live in the UK.
Essentially, the actions of those involved are selfish, childish, and embarrassing; jobs should be for the best workers, not those who happen to be nearby. It should bring out the best in people, by trying to better others, not the worst, by trying to exclude them from competing. In the current financial climate, Britain needs to be less of an island off the coast of the EU proper; with attitudes like those of the Lindsey Refinery strikers making headlines, we are in danger of being branded an economic leper colony.