This is a subject that comes up quite often during our editorial meetings. Two weeks ago we did a programme from Calais where a camp called ‘The Jungle’ was shut down by the French government.
Some of you reacted to the Afghan refugees on the program asking them to go home because if they do make it across the Channel to Britain, they’ll become a burden on the health and housing system. Some of you also mentioned that many have lost their jobs due to recession so there aren’t enough jobs to go around for new people, especially that the new people are illegal migrants.But even for migrants who are in a country legally this is still an issue. Earlier in the year we did a programme debating whether local jobs should be for local people. UK workers staged protests because companies hire workers from other countries in the EU instead of locals.
But a report by the United Nations Development Programme, claims that migrant workers are a great asset to help countries like the UK pull out of recession.It’s urging governments, especially those of wealthy countries with ageing populations, to change their immigration policies and offer a “new deal” to migrant workers whose skills can help with economic recovery.
Jeni Klugman, the report’s author, says:
“The recession should be seized as an opportunity to institute a new deal for migrants — one that will benefit workers at home and abroad while guarding against a protectionist backlash…”
I remember speaking to Sarah Robinson, Owner of Bean There Coffee Company in Johannesburg, she was telling me about staff in her company and how migrant workers from Zimbabwe work much harder than local workers from South Africa. “May be because they’re more desperate and know they have nowhere else to go.” I remember her telling me.
Do you view migrant workers as an asset that could help pull your country out of the economic downturn? Or do you think that as your country pulls out recession, the jobs created should go to local people? Do migrant workers offer a healthy competition that could benefit the economy of your country or are they an unnecessary burden?