The impact of Migrant labour in the UK economy
Introduction: Britain has witnessed an unprecedented surge in the influx of migrant workers of the last six years (Woodgate, 2010). Since 2005, when a new wave of countries like Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia joined the European Union, there is hardly a day when the media does not talk about immigration and how it is affecting the British economy (Woodgate, 2010). Migrant workers from these Eastern European nations and other developing nations have fled their countries in order to find jobs in the UK. This new situation has given birth to a new debate over the impact of migrant workers in the British economy, as well as how migrant workers ought to be treated (Woodgate, 2010). The ILO is worried about the situation of the migrant worker across the world and has been seeking to protect the migrant worker from exploitation and other forms of unfair treatment for several decades today (Taran & Geronimi, 2003).
The Effects of Migrant Workers on the NHS
I am thrilled to have been offered this opportunity to address the board of NHS on the impact of hiring migrant workers not just on the NHS in particular, but also on the British economy and community that harbour these migrant workers as well. To begin with, there are a lot of job opportunities within the NHS that require highly skilled labour; meanwhile some of these positions seek to recruit unskilled labour (Robinson, 2008). No matter what quality of skills are required, migrant workers can always help to fill up vacancies that have remained unoccupied either because there are no nationals who have skills in that discipline or die to the fact that many British residents do not want to take up some of these low paying menial jobs. There are many foreign students who studied in British universities and returned to their home countries to find work (Robinson, 2008). Some of these students do not even succeed to find the jobs the desire because of the high levels of unemployment that exists in their home countries. Many of these students are better off working in the UK because their training was done in the UK and they have been prepared to take up some of the jobs offered at the NHS (Home Office, 2005). In this light therefore, it is important to state that migrant workers should not be considered as threats to native workers. Instead, these workers should compliment the local workers who have been working in this country to make NHS to offer better services to British residents.
Migrant workers are generally more motivated to work as a result of the fact that they know that they would suffer from unemployment when the return to their home countries. As such, most of these workers consider themselves to be very lucky to be able to pick up jobs with reputable agencies such as the NHS. This is a unique opportunity that the NHS needs to take advantage of and keep up with a policy that would recruit migrant workers. These migrant workers are hard working and highly inspired (Kamm, 2007). They are always available to take on extra hours or work during weekends making it possible for the NHS to staff its offices even during public holidays. One thing is clear; many native British workers do not like putting in extra working hours. As such, it becomes difficult to assign them when, for one reason or the other, a worker is unable to show up for work (Kamm, 2007). Considering the above, the NHS should recruit some migrant workers as many of these workers are available to put in long hours of extra time. Native British workers most often demand higher wages when putting in extra time compared to migrant workers (Menjivar, 1999). This is a good enough reason that should motivate these board members to consider hiring migrant workers to take up some positions in the NHS. CARE services are extremely important for the ageing and sick population here in the UK. Migrant workers are often ready to put in many hours working at CARE centres around this country. For this reason, I think it would be good for the NHS to review its position when it comes to hiring migrant workers.
The NHS has a moral obligation to treat migrant workers with ethical considerations. Ethics calls on us humans to treat each other with respect irrespective of where we meet and how we interact with fellow humans (Kamm, 2007). Kantian ethics teaches that to act in the morally right way, people must act from duty and what matters most is the motive of individuals and not the consequences of their actions (Crisp, 1995). Based on this belief, the NHS is right to hire migrant workers and treat them with respect. Migrant workers are contributing to the overall economic development of the UK (Home Office, 2005). Global conventions, such as the ILO’s “Migration for Employment (Revised) (ILO No. 97) of 1949” should be strictly observed so as to protect migrant workers (Taran & Geronimi, 2003). This would give migrant workers same status as native workers and thereby prevent discrimination of any kind (Taran & Geronimi, 2003). In order to achieve this goal, NGOs and other actors within the civil society like human rights NGOs need to lend a hand to migrant workers and protect them from unscrupulous employers.
In conclusion, migrant workers are helpful to the NHS in particular and British economy in general considering the fact that they do pay in taxes to the national and local governments (Robinson, 2008). Meanwhile there is much talk about migrant workers reducing the wages in the UK; there is not enough evidence to substantiate this point (Bell et al, 2004). Besides, more than 90 percent of migrant workers are employed by the low paying sectors that would not attract indigenous British workers even if the migrant workers were to quit these positions (Robinson, 2008). Similarly, there are many skilled positions that are yet to be taken up in some sectors of the economy. That is where migrant workers should come in.
Bell, K. et al. (2004) Migrant Workers in Northern Ireland, Belfast: Institute for Conflict Research
Crisp, R. (1995) ‘Deontological ethics’ In Ted Honderich, (ed.), The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, Oxford: Oxford University Press
Home Office (2005) Controlling Our Borders: Making Migration Work for Britain – Five Year Strategy for Asylum and Immigration. London: HMSO
Menjivar, C. (1999) “The Intersection of Work and Gender: Central American Immigrant Women and Employment in California.” American Behavioral Scientist, 42: 601-627
Kamm, F. M. (2007) Intricate Ethics: Rights, Responsibilities, and Permissible Harm, New York: Oxford University Press
Robinson, V. (2008) Migrant workers in the UK, Labour Market Trends, September 2008, p 476
Taran, P. A. & Geronimi, E. (2003) Globalization, Labour and Migration: Protection is Paramount, Perspectives on Labour Migration 3 E, INTERNATIONAL LABOUR OFFICE GENEVA
Woodgate, L. K. (2010) Today’s Migrant Worker, New York: Basic Book