I've been listening to all this protectionist nonsense since last week and it's starting to piss me off. We are EU citizens and as such we all have equal rights to work wherever we want within the EU. It's hardly Europe's fault if we are to stupid or too stubborn.
Tonight I'm fainting in shock at the realization that I am in agreement with that Mandelson slimeball for the first time in my life. (Isn't it nice to live is a country where you have freedom of speech ;-) ). First of all, I think retaining the jobs for British workers is bad for business. If Brits know their employer can't go out and hire people more capable of a job because they are forced to use locals whatever their qualifications, where is the incentive for the Brit to learn how to do the job well and to work hard? Secondly, given the poor state of the education system in many areas, you'd be hard pushed to find someone qualified to do a specific job at times. Of course as soon as we ban the Italian workers, they ban ours and so on till the economy is unworkable...
(As an aside I have to laugh at the whole story that started these strikes in the first place - Total (a French company) is employing Italians in Linconshire. Maybe they would be happy if Total withdrew from England altogether and moved the oil plant to say Lorraine instead - they have been hard up for industry there too since the mines closed down? In fact maybe Nissan, Toyota and the likes should also move their plants back home so they can employ their own locals??? Just a thought...)
Anyway the reason the whole thing is infuriating me so much is because it is a question of language of course. Five years ago many Poles came to Britain because our currency was worth more than theirs. Young educated Poles came here and took on menial jobs until they mastered the language well enough to work in the area they were qualified to. They worked hard, sent some money home, saved for a better life and either stayed or went home again. I presume some families were separated for a few years while one member worked here to send money home too. This is a horrible thing to have to do but they did it for a better life. What makes us believe we are better than them? Our young people sit here whinging they can't get a job but they can't speak any foreign languages. Are we too good to go and clean the Dutch equivalent of Waterstones or stack the Portuguese Tesco's shelves until we master their language enough to get the job we are qualified for? Our currency is now the underdog. Our young people should be jumping at the chance to rush out and earn some Euros. The big problem of course is that learning a new unknown language is 100 times easier than learning a first foreign language. The other Europeans pick up English better and quicker because they are experienced language learners. We are abysmal at language teaching and should be making an effort to prepare our young people for the work place of the future instead of assuming arrogantly that we have no need to learn languages or ever work abroad.