Speaker Bercow is right: migrants are harder workers

John Bercow is getting a lot of flack right now from the right-wing press for comments made in Romania in which he seemed to imply that EU migrants were better workers than their British counterparts.

John Bercow

John Bercow is getting a lot of flack right now from the right-wing press for comments made in Romania in which he seemed to imply that EU migrants were better workers than their British counterparts.

Speaking at the Romanian Parliament in Bucharest yesterday, Mr Bercow said:

“I want to underline the fact that there has been an important wave of immigrants that came to great Britain from new member states and in many cases they came with aptitudes and a commitment, an involvement we haven’t always seen in our labour force.”

Predictably the remarks were branded “outrageous” by UKIP’s Nigel Farage, while the Daily Mail quoted the concerns of several fellow Tory MPs about Mr Bercow’s suitability for the role of Speaker, questioning his “neutrality”

The problem Bercow’s critics have, however, is that regardless of how ‘controversial’ his remarks are there is something to them.

Of course, aside from anecdotal evidence it’s hard to judge whether migrants work harder or not. What is true, however, is that they are generally better educated that their British counterparts and more willing to undertake low-skilled occupations. The graph below from a 2009 study compares A8 migrants (that’s those from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Poland) with the indigenous UK population.

Graph7

As you can see, migrants have a higher level of education than their British counterparts but are concentrated overwhelmingly in routine and semi-routine occupations – examples perhaps of the aptitudes and commitment Bercow describes.

Migrants also tend to put more into the collective pot than their British counterparts, as this graph from the same study shows.

Migrants graph

As the study makes clear:

“The key results are that in each fiscal year since enlargement in 2004, A8 immigrants made a positive contribution to public finance. For instance, in the latest fiscal year, 2008-09, A8 immigrants paid 37 per cent more in direct or indirect taxes than they received in public goods and services.”

In 2009 year, immigrants from Poland and other Eastern European countries made up 0.91 per cent of the population, commanded 0.60 per cent of government expenditure and contributed 0.96 per cent of government revenues.

Harder workers? Who knows. Aptitudes and a level of commitment often greater than the indigenous population? Certainly.

7 Responses to “Speaker Bercow is right: migrants are harder workers”

  1. LB

    So if I said foreigners are lazy, you should only employ Brits, would that be acceptable?

    No, because its racist.

    However you will come along and say same, but about the British.

    You are racist.

  2. Bromley86

    The problem is, importing labour and paying your local population to do
    nothing works if you’re sitting on lakes of oil, but we’re not.

    Anecdotally,
    most people probably know or know of a Polish carpenter or
    similar who’s massively overqualified (in a different field) and
    exceptionally hard-working. To suggest that he’s taking a job that
    would otherwise be filled by one of the British unemployed is
    simplistic, but in the long run it’s accurate. By suppressing the wages
    for carpenters, he’s helping ensure the problem of an underutilised local
    workforce trundles along.

  3. Jacko

    An open challenge to James Bloodworth
    ———————————————–

    You made the following statement:

    “Aptitudes and a level of commitment often greater than the indigenous population? Certainly.”

    Now substitute the words “black people” for “the indigenous population” and defend that statement.

    You’ve written and posted this article as the editor of this site, so have the moral courage to the answer the charge that you have made racist statements.

  4. Paul Oliver

    When you say, “the indigenous UK population”, do you mean people who are actually indigienous to the countries in this kingdom, or do you mean those who were born and bred here? For example, someone who was born in England to parents who immigrated from China or Jamaica is no more or less a native of England than I am, but they’re probably not indigenous to England.
    When you compare the university qualifications of eastern Europeans to those of British people, it’s worth mentioning that we’re not in the same boat in this kingdom. Students from England pay a fortune for tuition, while our ‘fellow’ citizens from the devolved countries pay nothing (or at least a lot less than people from England). When you have to pay £9,000 a year, it doesn’t encourage you to go to uni, does it? A ‘united’ kingdom? Give me a break.
    What about the immigrants who come here not to work hard and get something for themselves, but to be population statistics and sit around doing nothing but breeding and claiming benefits they have no right to claim? These people give immigrants a bad name (and I speak as someone partly descended from immigrant stock).

  5. Bromley86

    >>>An open challenge to James Bloodworth . . . Now substitute the words “black people” for “the indigenous population” and defend that statement.

    So, a thought experiment. Let’s say that there was a published study that showed black people were paid more than whites and yet whites were both more educated and more likely to be in employment. Would it be racist to say, on the basis of that study, that whites were harder working (more work, less money yet better qualified)?

    Would it then be racist for an employer to have a preference for white employees in this case, especially if their personal experience backed up the results of the report? If not, would it then become racism if they publicly stated their preference (assuming they don’t refuse black applicants out of hand)?

  6. Mark Stevo

    “Speaker Bercow is right: migrants are harder workers”

    “Of course, aside from anecdotal evidence it’s hard to judge whether migrants work harder or not. “

  7. Jacko

    It’s easier to delete my post than deal with the awkward truth, isn’t it, Mr Bloodworth? 1-0 to me, and we both know it.

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