Edward Anderson writes that businesses are beginning to realise that the end of unlimited migrant labour means wages will need to rise if they are to start attracting British people to fill the growing list of vacancies.  

Recently, I was sent a video of the dire apocalyptic tragedy of food unpicked in fields of the UK. You may have seen this video do the rounds on social media. Inevitably, it was hailed as a disastrous consequence of Brexit and not, as every true left winger could tell you, a basic economic injustice beginning to correct itself.

The lack of labour in those industries now is a direct result of Brexit because jobs that depended on (or doped themselves on) immigrants working for substantially less than native workers is now closing. Subsequently, wages will have to rise to meet a level of standards that British workers are prepared to accept. Before, these employers had found a way to break the golden rule of wage economics that wages need to reach a level sufficient to live in that country but with mass immigration, they only needed to pay a wage suitable to live in Romania or Eastern Europe. A wet dream for poor employers and big business everywhere, who also had the golden ticket of globalisation allowing them to offshore many industries to third world dictatorships, where organising for better wages is banned.

Now this is no longer possible, the wax works and tears are pouring out and predictably the usual suspects of rich liberals who benefited from this (Guardian readers with their cheap au pairs) or businesses themselves (the CBI) are screeching to have their special privileges restored.

But remember how scummy these people were when they had power to control the agenda. Back in 2013, Dominos wanted more immigrants as they couldn't find British people to take their work. The idea of raising wages or having to compete for labour had been completely erased from the labour market. Or Stuart Rose, who could barely hide his contempt for working class people in Britain asking for better pay, saying "if immigrants are prepared to come here for the wages on offer, so be it." Indeed, we can also look here in Spain, where cheap immigration is still allowed (despite a sky high unemployment rate), this is the true face of the low skilled work in immigrant-intensive industries.

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The fact is "if you don't like it, you can leave" is never used by an employer who is worried about finding a replacement. It is a threat disguised as an offer. When the boot was on the other foot, businesses of all sectors were thuggish and brutish towards staff, offering a fait accompli of awful conditions, hours hostile to families and pay that may buy you a house in Romania but is permanent impoverishment in a developed economy like the UK. Now the tables have turned, they are crying to the government about "who will clean our kitchen or pick our fruit?"

An easy test to see if someone is left or right wing is how they finish the following sentence: "Immigrants do the job natives don't want to do…" The correct answer of course, is "at the current wage rate". But if you were to listen to the whinging in the Guardian (a right wing paper that pretends to be left wing despite constantly taking the side of the rich and affluent in issues of basic labour economics) you would think the idea of workers being able to demand more money and better conditions was a national tragedy, rather than a long overdue correction of power that had seen awful employers press the boot over workers' throats.

It was true when Keir Hardie did not want Lithuanians sent over to Britain to work in mines. It was true when Samuel Gompers fought to keep Europeans out of the American Labour Force and it is true now. Mass immigration has always been a bosses policy, a right wing tool to reduce the bargaining power of the worker to the domination of the rich and affluent. That is never going to change and working class people instinctively knew this, despite everyone telling them they were thick and bigots (due to their own economic interest being under threat).

A more interesting (and infuriating) question is why unions in every country bar maybe Denmark abandoned (and continue to abandon) these basic economic facts, which are fundamental to the foundation of the Trade Union movement, and choose instead to be nothing more than a lapdog of bad employers and liberal newspapers (whose readers overwhelming benefited from said cheap immigrants)? That, however, is a question for another time.

Finally for British workers, after two decades of bosses having a never-ending line of cheap immigrant labour, the tide is beginning to turn back in favour of wages, terms and conditions that are actually sufficient for people to live on in the UK and not Eastern Europe. For those businesses who doped themselves on cheap immigrants and collapsed terms and conditions safe in the knowledge that the tap would never be turned off, there are now two options.

Be the incredible businessmen you think you are by innovating to be less labour-intensive whilst raising the wage rate in the meantime, or face the consequences of your own greed and avarice. You are reaping what you sowed. Every decent person should hope that any business or sector who chooses to film its own sob story about food unpicked or kitchens unstaffed, instead of waking up to the new reality, withers on the vine like the food in the fields.

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