Diane Abbott slams Conservative plans for the ‘worst kind of exploitation’

Diane Abbott
Support us and go ad-free

Diane Abbott has commented on the Conservatives’ latest planned changes to immigration policy. And she didn’t pull any punches.

In a devastating critique published in the Morning Star, she accused the government of pushing a plan that would lead to a:

recipe for workplace exploitation of the worst kind.

The immigration bill

The government first announced its new plans in December 2018, setting out immigration policy after Brexit.

Among other measures, it proposed new rules for ‘low-skilled’ migrant workers. This would see ‘low-skilled’ workers from overseas only able to access a 12-month, non-extendable visa. People on these visas would be unable to claim benefits, and would also be restricted from settling in the UK.

The post-Brexit immigration plan will also likely include a minimum income threshold for ‘skilled’ migrants. Prior to the first announcement, the government was considering requiring “skilled” migrants to earn at least £30,000 a year.

At the time of the announcement, home secretary Sajid Javid claimed:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Today’s proposals are the biggest change to our immigration system in a generation. We are taking a skills-based approach to ensure we can attract the brightest and best migrants to the UK. These measures will boost our economy and benefit the British people.

“Super-exploitation”

But the proposals don’t convince Abbott. In fact, she argues they will lead to greater exploitation of workers. In her Morning Star article, she wrote:

The risk of super-exploitation will be built into the legal system. The new Immigration Bill introduces an entirely new work visa of just 12 months, for those who Tory ministers persist in calling “low-skilled” workers, who are in reality underpaid workers.

She then explained how this exploitation would emerge:

The real difference is that under the new scheme, many migrant workers who come here will in effect have virtually no rights — to employment protection, health and safety, sickness pay, maternity leave and so on — simply because they will be temporary workers and under threat of deportation in 12 months’ time… These workers will be almost impossible to organise, or find it very difficult to organise themselves. They will have no legal right to bring family members here, in breach of the UN’s right to a family life. They will be prey to the most unscrupulous employers.

And she argued the plan is part of an attempt by the Conservatives to attack migration:

the government’s policy amounts to a permanent campaign against migration and migrants as a scapegoat for the effects of their own austerity policy.

Not alone

Abbott isn’t the only one who has hit out at the government’s plans. Last year, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) slammed the policy, declaring it a “disaster for every worker”. In a blog, TUC policy officer Rosa Crawford said:

It’s official: Theresa May’s vision for a post-Brexit immigration system is a danger to all workers – wherever they’re from.

The TUC shared Abbott’s analysis that the policy will make migrant workers more vulnerable and lead to increased exploitation. And the plans were further criticised by The Canary’s , who argued that the policy is both “racist and classist”.

Abbott’s voice joining the criticism is important. With Labour’s shadow home secretary now openly condemning the proposed changes, pressure is mounting on the government to change tack.

Featured image via PaulNUK – Wikimedia

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us