Opposition-leader Ed Miliband has vowed to end Britain’s reliance on cheap labour should his party be successful at the next General Election in 2015, reports the BBC.
Mr Miliband used an article in The Independent on Sunday to describe the UK’s ‘chronic’ dependency on cheap foreign labour, and vowed to put an end to it if Labour wins the next election.
He specifically targeted low-skilled immigration, saying that it was making the crisis in cost-of-living worse.
If Labour wins the next election, Mr Miliband has pledged to close a loophole in employment law that allows companies to pay their agency staff less than their permanent workers.
Although the EU’s Agency Workers Directive currently means that temporary workers should be paid the same as permanent workers, many firms are able to bypass this law by offering the agency temps permanent contracts with a clause opting them out of this particular legislation.
“We have to change our country’s chronic dependency on low-skill, low-wage labour. A dependency that is getting worse not better,” he wrote in The Independent on Sunday.
“What chance of rising living standards for all when unscrupulous firms can exploit workers from abroad to get around the minimum wage?” he added.
The Labour leader proposes to fine firms that do not pay the National Minimum Wage to all of their employees, and to ban recruiters from employing only migrants and not UK nationals, as is a common practice at present.
However, Mr Miliband’s assault on cheap labour was viewed dimly by the Confederation of British Industry.
Katja Hall is the CBI’s chief policy director.
“The flexible labour market in this country has saved jobs and kept our economy going during tough times,” she said in response to Mr Miliband’s claims.
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