Blogs by Don Flynn
There are two things to say about concerns registered on behalf of migrants.
The first is, yes, there are very good grounds for believing that many of them are exposed to a high risk of abusive, exploitative work conditions.
The second is, don’t get carried away: migrants are working hard to turn their disadvantages around, and there are things to learn from those who are registering a degree of success in doing this.
Migrant workers are not necessarily vulnerable workers
The facts are a good place to start this discussion. And here the empirical evidence for the disproportionate presence of migrants in work situations which are clearly exploitative is not as clear-cut as many suppose.
It is getting on to ten years since MRN was launched as a project that aimed to improve the capacity of organisations concerned with the rights of migrants of all kinds to network with one another.
Back in 2006 it had become clear that the UK, along with other developed market economies across the world, was in the middle of a new ‘Age of Migration’. Driven in by the globalisation of labour markets the trend for countries like the UK in the years since has been to acquire stocks of migration which are typically in the range of 10 to 15% of their total populations.
The tone of reporting on immigration shifted over the course of this weekend as the media took stock of Pope Francis’s visit to refugees on the Greek island of Lesvos. In the company of the heads of the Greek Orthodox Church, Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics caused ripples of shock by declaring before media onlookers that before the thousands now penned into so-called ‘hotspots’ on the island became refugees they had also been people.
The sense that the European Union is badly floundering in its response to the refugee crisis on its south eastern border was increased last week as the authorities charged with acting on its behalf began to implement the much-criticised deportation deal with Turkey.
By the end of the week it was reported that a total of 326 people had been returned from Greece to Turkey since the deportations started on Monday 4 April. The deportees were said to be men from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who the authorities believed had no claim for asylum.
There’s a moment of real poignancy in the 1980s’s film comedy ‘Withnail and I’ when the hippy drug-dealer Danny gives his views on our collective failure to make good on all that was promised in the 60s:
The greatest decade in the history of mankind is over. And as Presuming Ed here has so consistently pointed out, we have failed to paint it black.
The failings of one generation are destined to become the challenges for the next. Unfortunately the one that followed the Swinging Sixties proved just as inept. And the task of sorting the mess out, if it is ever going to be done, is falling to the set of people we are learning to call the ‘millennials.’