Emile Roemer: Euro-orphans and jobless adults

2 December 2016

Emile Roemer: Euro-orphans and jobless adults

Metal workers in the maritime industry are angry. Thousands of jobs threaten to disappear because employers en masse prefer to hire cheap labour from abroad.

Young men from Poland work for months at a time for 12-13 hours per day. For €7 an hour, a wage on which no-one can support a family.

Half a million Dutch workers are unemployed, but too often employers want to get good quality labour for as little as they can get away with. Skilled men and women who have devoted themselves for years to their firms are cast aside.

And in eastern Europe itself? There, children are growing up without their parents. Known as ‘euro-orphans’, they only know Mum and Dad through Facebook or Skype.

This is what unregulated labour migration means in reality. It’s one of the gross excesses of raw capitalism. Unemployment in the Netherlands, underpayment of eastern Europeans and children who stay behind in Ukraine and Poland.

“They come hear so they can eat. Everyone has to eat. We can’t just put the guilt on these people.” This statement from one of the metalworkers touched me. These men and women want nothing more than a fair wage for their skilled work. What they are demanding is that their work isn’t driven off the market by the government and the employers.

That’s why the SP says: end this uncontrolled labour migration as one big party for employers. If free movement of labour in Europe leads to unemployment, exploitation and euro-orphans, then it’s high time it was stopped.

Emile Roemer is leader of the SP.

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