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Migrant workers 'benefiting' economy

An influx of migrant workers has boosted the UK's economy, a new report published today has claimed. 

The study, published by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) dismisses claims that the arrival of immigrant workers has led to falling wages and fewer jobs for indigenous UK staff. Combating further accusations by critics on the far right, who claim that immigrants are acting as a drain on the welfare state, the TUC reports that migrant workers are paying more in taxes than the value of public services they receive in Britain. The research follows the influx of migrant workers from Eastern European nations who entered the UK following the expansion of the European Union in 2004.

Fears were subsequently raised that UK employees could lose their jobs and see wages forced down as a result of the growing number of workers from countries such as Poland who were willing to undertake low-paid employment here. But the TUC said there was „limited evidence” that the arrival of migrant workers had impacted on the wages and employment of low-skilled workers in Britain - whom the union body stressed had not lost out as a result of the strength of the economy. However the organization's report did warn that further action needed to be taken to ensure that „unscrupulous” employers could not take advantage of the lack of knowledge migrant workers had about their working rights, or of their poor English skills in some cases. The TUC is therefore calling for employment rights such as the national minimum wage to be enforced more rigorously in order to protect those who come to work in Britain and combat claims that they are undermining the prospects of UK staff.

Commenting on the report, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: „Migrant workers are making a substantial contribution to Britain's economy, and some sectors would collapse if they were removed overnight. „But we do not do enough to protect vulnerable workers, whether migrant or indigenous, from exploitation. „If migrant workers are treated fairly and paid a decent wage they can only add to the economy, and pose no threat to the livelihoods of the rest of the workforce.” (