Tuesday, 5 August 2014

What Dispatches Doesn't Tell You

Channel 4's Monday night investigation programme Dispatches is often interesting, sometimes biased and known for skirting the issues. Never more so than last night when it broadcast a programme on how supermarkets and food producers exploit their workers to keep prices low. 

Supermarkets: The Real Price of Cheap Food - Channel 4 Dispatches

Although it admitted that most of these workers are cheap, non-unionized labour brought in from Portugal, Lithuania or elsewhere in the EU, it was very careful not to mention the words "European Union" at any time in the programme. Nor did the words "immigration" or "migrant" ever feature as far as I can remember.
The programme, presented by Morland Sanders, revealed how companies like Bernard Matthews which used to employ English workers at Holton and was proud of how it treated its employees, now relies on agency staff recruited from Portugal. It tells English workers that it has no vacancies, yet meanwhile advertises elsewhere in Portuguese. 
 The workers are bussed in from 20 miles away at 5am to chop up turkeys, yet when they arrive they may be told there is no work for them as they are on agency contracts which are zero-hours. When they do get any work it is for the minimum-wage, and you try living on a minimum wage when you cannot rely on getting a 40-hour week. Because they don't speak English, are not union members and do not know the regulations, they can be exploited with little fear that they will complain or resist. So now tell me why the Labour party supports EU membership?
The programme showed how Lithuanian workers are brought over here by racketeers known as GANGMASTERS. Yes, we now have gangmasters in the UK, and it is official because there is even a Gangmasters' Licensing Authority, the GLA. Nice, isn't it? The gangmasters get the migrants low-paid jobs and house them in dormitories which are very likely to be owned by the company, the gangmaster or some remarkably close crony. In a house in Penzance they were paying £55 per week to sleep in a bed in a shared room. 
Some other terms that were carefully excluded from Channel 4's programme were "wage depression" and "English workers". The suggestion that English workers have any reason to be resentful because their wages have been driven down by the availability of cheap migrant labour would be "racist" according to Channel 4's left-wing attitudes. So the programme ended lamely, concluding that supermarkets are just bad and wicked, and there is nothing you can do about it. It addressed the symptoms...but not the real cause. 
Across the entire EU there is an economic crisis. 
The picture below, of a beggar rummaging through a bin in the street, was taken last week, not in Portugal or Lithuania, but in Nuremberg in Germany. 

That's right, Germany, the richest and most economically stable nation in the European Union. Its streets are full of beggars, as are its railways stations.
This photograph of a left-wing rally in the town centre of Nuremberg, was taken last week too. Note the red cloth caps, and the banners denouncing "Hartz 4".

Hartz 4 is the programme of cuts to welfare spending that Germany has brought in as part of its austerity measures. You can no longer go on claiming job-seeker's allowance indefinitely. You can claim it only for one year, and then you get relegated to a much lower level of benefit, which most people would not find enough to live on. While you are claiming JSA you have to prove that you are frequently applying for all sorts of jobs far and wide  - just as you do, of course, now, in England.  If you don't, you are struck off the unemployment register and conveniently removed from the statistics. They have also removed from the figures any woman who has a child of pre-school age, even if she would prefer to have a job. 
Gresham's law was "bad money drives out good". In a similar way "cheap labour drives out decent pay." But the likes of Cameron and Clegg don't care. They are multi-millionaires  - as are Blair, Mandelson and the Kinnocks  - and it is us plebs who are left rummaging through the bins.



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