Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/798/18140

From The Socialist newspaper, 12 February 2014

2004 Morecambe Bay tragedy: Has anything changed?

Teresa MacKay

It is now ten years since the horrific tragedy of the 23 Chinese cockle pickers who drowned in Morecambe Bay.

Heartbreakingly one of the bodies was only found in 2010. This was the highest number of industrial deaths since the 1988 Piper Alpha disaster.

The British government refused to compensate the victims' families for the deaths because they were undocumented workers.

So they were left coping with debts ranging from the 10,000 to 20,000 that it cost them to travel to England from China.

What has changed since 2004 for migrant workers? The tragedy forced the Blair government to bring in the Gangmaster Licencing Act (GLA), which regulates agencies employing workers in the fresh food produce and packing industry, shellfish gathering, agriculture and horticulture.

After the GLA came into effect in October 2006, agencies were meant to have a licence and adhere to proper labour practices.

The penalty, if found guilty of not registering, is imprisonment of up to ten years. More than 3,000 should be registered though just over one third are.

Only 20% of GLA-licenced labour providers are thought to be genuinely abiding by the standards. Unregistered labour providers feel they have little to worry about. As undocumented workers have no rights, they will not be covered by even the GLA.

Migrant Rights Convention

The UN created the international convention - known as the Migrant Rights Convention - in 1990. This set out minimum standards to protect migrant workers.

Only 37 member states out of 192 ratified the Convention, all of them labour-sending countries. No migrant-receiving countries, including the UK, ratified this Convention.

In 2007 the Labour government yielded to the bosses' CBI pressure and decided not to pass the Agency Workers Directive, which would have given full employment rights to agency workers after six weeks of starting the job.

Exploitation of migrant workers, particularly undocumented workers, continues with many not receiving the national minimum wage and sometimes no pay at all.

Employment agencies also illegally charge registration fees, making the workers pay again if they are dismissed and need a replacement job.

They also charge exorbitant rents in overcrowded flats and make random deductions from their wages.

Immigration control means workers from non-EU countries find it harder and harder to come to the UK as documented workers.

The existing 200,000 undocumented Chinese workers in Britain, here to lift themselves and their families out of poverty, continue to be maltreated and trapped.

With or without papers they want to be able to work openly. The government makes this impossible, maintaining the workers' illegality and exploitation through tightening controls and refusing to protect them.

Cheap flexible labour

There are up to one million undocumented migrant workers in Britain. Businesses make profits from their cheap flexible labour, working for appalling wages and working hours.

They are producing wealth for a country that permanently excludes them. The trade unions should campaign to ensure no one gets paid below the rate for the job.

Migration is a global phenomenon and will not go away. The fluctuations of capitalism, wars and inequality cause an endless and growing movement of labour.

According to the ILO, the number of people living outside their countries of origin rose between 1975 and 2000, from 75 million to 175 million and could double again in the next 25 years.

Undocumented workers account for 20% of global migration so there are 24 million 'illegal workers' worldwide.

There are 5.5 million illegal workers in Europe, yet they have no rights. The Council of Europe's report in 2007, 'Regularising Irregular Migrants,' even pointed out that a large proportion of these migrants could not be sent home as they were asylum seekers who may face imprisonment or death on their return.

Or they were smuggled into Europe, which means they have no documents for their countries of origin to accept them as citizens.

They are here to stay as the 'ghost citizens' upon whose labour much of the wealth of Europe's capitalist class is built.

Let's fight for the rights of all workers, including defending health and safety at work, and avoid future Morecambe Bays.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 12 February 2014:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Floods misery: Government cuts to blame

What future for Labour and the unions?

Fast food workers want decent pay and conditions

NHS: Kick out big Pharma

Them & Us


Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Sheffield kicks off election year with 7.6% vote

Standing up against cuts in Reading

Waltham Forest: Rally for rent control

Lewisham Labour no use in the Lions' Den


London Underground dispute

Tube strike first round: Trade Unions 1 - Johnson 0

London tube stoppages show workers can win

Effective action builds

State attacks trade union action


Socialist Party workplace news

Teachers call national strike

Posties vote yes - where now for postal workers?

Higher Education: Striking for an improved pay offer

Workplace news in brief


Reviews and readers' comments

The Square: bravery and disappointment in Egypt

Housing crisis hell: a worker's view

Don't trust Labour with our NHS

2004 Morecambe Bay tragedy: Has anything changed?

Tebay disaster: Workers' grievances can't be sidelined


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Councils continue making Con-Dem cuts

Brighton solidarity with LGBTQ+ Russians

Leicester Socialist Student arrested in peaceful protest

WASP: South African elections announced

Building the Socialist Party


 

Home   |   The Socialist 12 February 2014   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Migrant workers:

triangleTory and Blairite racist policy is behind Windrush fatality

triangleNSSN conference 2018: Mood for fighting action and coordination

triangleWorkplace news in brief

triangleChina: Impressive, coordinated and daring crane drivers' strikes

triangleMigrant cleaners win living wage at Mail

Morecambe:

triangleTebay disaster: Workers' grievances can't be sidelined

Labour:

trianglePacked labour movement service a fitting farewell to Tony Mulhearn

triangleInterview with Jared Wood - candidate for RMT union executive

triangleEnfield North Labour Party: Defend local democracy

Government:

triangleMassive protests against Lebanon's corrupt elite

triangleChile: An outpouring of rage against the capitalist system

Europe:

triangleWhat now for Brexit?

Migration:

triangleLeicester socialists fight poverty-paying sweatshops

Agency workers:

triangleDVSA strike: action impacting

Asylum:

triangleAssange arrest: US and allied governments seeking revenge for exposing dirty wars

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments

23/10/19

Letters

The Socialist Inbox

16/10/19

Trotskyism

Major new book out in November: In Defence of Trotskyism

16/10/19

David Cameron

The Cameron Tory legacy

16/10/19

Tony Mulhearn

Book: The Making of a Liverpool Militant by Tony Mulhearn

9/10/19

Review

Film review: Joker - Sympathising with a monster created by today's incendiary conditions

9/10/19

Sexual harassment

Book review: She Said - Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement

2/10/19

Letters

The Socialist inbox

2/10/19

Socialist Party

Active and strong member of Socialist Party reaches 80

25/9/19

Letters

The Socialist Inbox

18/9/19

Letters

The Socialist inbox

18/9/19

Peterloo

Peterloo - fighting for democracy and a better life

11/9/19

Democracy

Capitalist 'democracy' v socialist democracy

4/9/19

Socialism

At 96 I'm more convinced of socialism than ever

4/9/19

Letters

The Socialist Inbox

28/8/19

Letters

The Socialist Inbox

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07954 376 096

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


October 2019

September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999