Will Curbs on Immigration Lead to Labour Shortages and What Will Be The Consequences?
Let us look at history. There have been shortages of labour before. The most compelling example is the consequences of the Black Death. This was a plague that wiped out up to 40% of the population in a matter of a couple of years. So what was the reaction of the then Government?
England is regarded, by historians, as the country that best managed the crisis. Did England resort to mass immigration? Well… er … No. It would, in any case, have been a fruitless exercise since every other country had suffered similar losses.
The Peasants’ Revolt
The first step was to try to keep the serfs in their place by passing legislation freezing wages. This led to the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381. The net effect was the ending of a war and the ending of serfdom in England and Wales. The nation saw the beginnings of a process, of mechanisation of essential industries, leading to the first industrial revolution.
In short, a labour shortage provided the greatest ever stimulus to technological advance and the rapid improvement to the living standards of the majority, ever to have happened, in the history of this nation.
The Case for Improved Wage Levels
This leads me to question why the Establishment still persist in trying to suppress the incomes and living standards of the overwhelming majority of our people. There is now clear evidence: that has been the effect of migration and the falling, effective, GDP per capita I outlined in my previous article [click to see].
Do the 1% really believe the best way to manage our economy is to deny good living standards to the majority? Do they fail to understand this economy is, now, a consumer driven one where to thrive it is essential those consumers enjoy an income sufficient to drive the economy’s engine? Have they not yet realised the interdependence of different layers within society?
Later Examples from History
In later examples of sudden labour shortages, at the end of the first and second world wars, it is clear the Establishment had not learned the lessons of the Plague. It ignored history and chose, instead, to import millions of people in an attempt to undercut wages levels.
The first groups to arrive were from the West Indies. As soon as they arrived they demanded the same levels of pay as the indigenous population. Good for them. So the Establishment turned to India, Pakistan and Malaya. Exactly the same happened.
The Impact of the Trades Unions
To a large extent these efforts to undercut were ameliorated by a very strong Trades Union movement which rapidly recruited the newcomers to its protective brotherhood. The Establishment hit back by punitive legislation on Trades Unions and signed us up to membership of the EU. Having rendered the Trades Unions relatively impotent new sources of cheap labour could be tapped in Eastern Europe.
It is certainly true the Trades Unions had become rather big for their boots but any large scale manufacturer, if honest, will testify to how essential these organisations can be to the smooth running of their enterprises. For the most part the Trades Unions deliver the only channel of communication between management and workforce.
The proprietors of these firms like to ensure those who hold office within the unions are kept in check and under their control. Today they are, for the most part, far too well under control and they are not doing their job. In part that is due to their cosy relationship with one of the Establishment arms of Government, the Labour Party!
The Danger to our Essential Emergency Services
The result has been nurses and emergency services operatives have had pay cuts, in real terms, of around 15%. Contracts have been breached. The invention of the corrupt CPI to replace RPI in index linking has meant the true impact of inflation is now not compensated for. This shows how far the pendulum has swung in favour of the Establishment and guess what! There is a labour shortage in those areas.
The Opportunity as We Leave the EU
As we leave the EU the playing field will become closer to “level ground”. This represents an opportunity such as we have not had for 700 years. An apparent labour shortage should force employers to invest in productivity improving measures. It should force them to employ people they have, hitherto refused to: those who have been forced to retire against their will, the young, people living with disabilities.
Investment will have to be made in training and re-skilling. Employers will have to pay more for those they employ and thus will power the engine that now drives the economy.
Robotics are forecast to reduce the demand for labour but, as with the Richard Crompton’s Spinning Mule that forecast is unduly pessimistic. The Luddites should hold their fire! If we lead in such technological advances the net effect should mean greater wealth for all. However that will not happen unless we have major changes to our taxation regime as I outlined earlier [click to see].
I foresee a bright future for a global looking UK outside the EU.