Roger Thornhill, an occasional commenter here who also has his own blog, asks what is all the fuss about a foreign firm in the UK hiring foreign workers? He points out that if a UK firm operating in say, Germany, were to bring over some of its own staff, it might cause outrage among the locals, but then UK unions would protest at their members being banned from working abroad.
The truth is that when Gordon Brown made his comment, “British jobs for British workers”, he stoked the flames of a protectionist labour force doctrine that is now threatening to get out of hand. The disgrace of it is that even when the UK economy was growing relatively strongly, millions of able-bodied UK adults were not working and living off benefits. The tax, benefit and education system conspire to keep large numbers of the indigenous population out of the workforce. So naturally, firms turn to other sources of labour if they feel they can get a better deal.
In these tough times I feel sympathy for skilled workers who have felt themselves to be frozen out by a foreign employer doing business in the UK, but the brutal fact has to be faced that as far as many employers are concerned, some of the locals are just not as employable as foreigners. It is a terrible indictment of what has happened to the UK labour market under this administration. Untangling the mess is, or should be, a priority lest the situation fans the flames of protectionism, with disastrous consequences.
Update: The always cool-headed Chris Dillow puts up a feast of links explaining the impact of such foreign labour on local markets.