2009年3月12日 星期四

UK Job Losses Close Doors For Immigrant Labor

In this Northern England harbor town, 70 Italian workers spend their downtime on a former military barge moored behind a tall steel fence.

The Italians are employed expanding an oil refinery near here -- a situation that would have gone unnoticed during a 15-year span in which Britain relied on foreign companies and workers to fuel a remarkable economic boom. But after recent protests by British workers, the Italians are bused to and from the barge, where they are ushered back on board by a guard.

On Wednesday U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown addressed the U.S. Congress, striking an antiprotectionist note. But with the U.K. in a deepening recession, the British appear to be undergoing a mood swing when it comes to globalization. The small band of Italians became the focus of wildcat strikes last month by an estimated 2,000 workers at power plants and refineries across the U.K. Their message: British jobs for British workers.

'If you're sat at home unemployed with a house full of kids to feed and there is a power station going up, then course you are not going to like' seeing foreign workers take jobs, said Billy Bones, a British pipe fitter who works at the refinery, over a drink at the Jolly Miller pub.

The U.K. has far from slipped into widespread xenophobia. But sentiment is shifting in a country that prides itself on openness to foreign labor and investment.

U.K. government bank bailouts come with demands to lend at home. Public anger over a plan to sell a large stake in the U.K.'s postal service has been compounded by the fact that two foreign companies, one Dutch and one Danish, are being touted as likely buyers. In a recent survey, immigration was seen as the country's third-biggest concern, after the economy and crime, say pollsters Ipsos MORI, leapfrogging unemployment this month.

All this presents a difficult balancing act for Mr. Brown, long a proponent of globalization. In Washington, he addressed a Congress that recently raised trade worries around the world by inserting 'Buy American' provisions into the $787 billion economic stimulus bill. Mr. Brown said: 'So should we succumb to a race to the bottom and a protectionism that history tells us that, in the end, protects no one? No. We should have the confidence that we can seize the opportunities ahead and make the future work for us.'

Unemployment in the U.K. hit 6.3% in the fourth quarter of 2008, up from the boom's low of 4.7% in 2005. Projections from forecasting firm IHS Global Insight show it climbing as high as 10.5% in early 2011.

Government figures indicate the number of British workers in the country declined by 234,000, to 27 million, in the last quarter of 2008 from the year-earlier period, while the number of foreign workers climbed 175,000, to 2.4 million.

That's why seemingly routine events now can provoke outrage in some quarters, like the recent award by the government to a Japanese-led consortium of a contract to build and maintain a fleet of high-powered trains. Bob Laxton, the member of Parliament for Derby, the city with the U.K.'s last train manufacturer, called it 'a crass decision which gives the Japanese an opportunity of getting into the U.K. market.' The government says parts of the train will be manufactured in the U.K.

For the past decade, Mr. Brown's Labour Party continued the work of the previous government by removing obstacles to investment and foreign ownership. From 2004 to 2007, foreign investment accounted for 7.4% of the U.K.'s gross domestic product, compared with 1.4% in the U.S. and 1.6% in Germany, according to data from a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Immigration to the U.K. has tripled under the Labour government as the country made it easier to get work visas and other measures. The U.K. became one of only three European Union countries to allow workers from 10 new, mainly East European members of the EU.

Now, Mr. Brown is trying to manage the downturn by injecting government cash into domestic industries and guaranteeing lending -- but without raising barriers to open markets. While Mr. Brown has made it clear that British banks need to pump money into the local economy, he said in a recent interview that he doesn't want this to be protectionist.

Any protectionist campaign here -- such as a 'Buy British' effort -- would face another problem: There isn't as much left to protect in a country where manufacturing accounts for 14.3% of the economy, compared with 21.6% in 1995. There are, for instance, few British makers of toys or consumer electronics, and no significant British-owned car makers left.

In Germany, Europe's largest economy, manufacturing accounts for almost 24% of output. In the U.S., it accounts for even less than in the U.K., at 11.7%.

It is also harder to be protectionist in the modern world, with countries bound in trade groups such as the World Trade Organization and the EU. In the 15 states that have been members of the EU since 1995, every citizen has the same legal rights in applying for a job.

Last month, the U.K. said 104,000 people lost their jobs in the last three months of 2008, the highest figure since comparable records began in 1995.

As the government spends billions on bailouts, some taxpayers are demanding the money be spent at home. 'Of course the cash should be kept in Britain,' says Trevor Oliver, who runs Oliver Construction Ltd. in Immingham. 'You can't be a global family, you look after your own family.'

Alistair MacDonald

2009年 03月 09日 07:12
英國失業加劇 質疑開放經濟


這 些意大利人是被僱來擴建附近一家煉油廠的。在過去15年里﹐這種情況很平常﹐不會引起任何人的注意。在這段時期內﹐英國大量借助外國公司和工人的力量﹐推 動了經濟顯著繁榮。但最近﹐在英國工人提出抗議後﹐這些意大利人在駁船和工作地點之間要乘坐巴士往返﹐要由保安帶回到船上。

Benjamin Thomas for The Wall Street Journal
週 三﹐英國首相布朗(Gordon Brown)在美國國會發表講話﹐表達了反對保護主義的論調。但在經濟衰退正在深化的英國﹐英國人對全球化的情緒似乎正在發生動搖。上個月﹐全英國大約有 2,000名發電廠和煉油廠工人未經工會同意舉行了罷工行動﹐這小批意大利人成了罷工的焦點。他們傳遞出的信息是﹕英國的工作給英國人幹。

在Jolly Miller酒吧﹐在一家煉油廠做管道安裝工的英國人伯恩斯(Billy Bones)說﹐如果你失業在家﹐面對一屋子等著吃飯的孩子﹐而正有一家發電廠在建設﹐那麼你當然不願意看到外國工人搶了這些工作。


英 國政府實施的銀行救助計劃要求增加國內的貸款。公眾本來就對出售英國郵政機構大筆股份的計劃不滿﹐而輿論稱有兩家外國公司(分別是荷蘭和丹麥企業)可能會 成為買家﹐這更讓英國人怒火中燒。據民意調查機構Ipsos MORI說﹐在最近進行的調查中﹐這個月移民問題超過失業﹐成為排在經濟和犯罪之後的英國人關心的第三大問題。

所 有這些給長期支持全球化的布朗提出了如何平衡的艱巨任務。週三他在美國國會發表了講話。美國國會最近提出將“購買美國貨”的條款加到總規模7,870億美 元的經濟刺激計劃里﹐此舉在世界上引發了對全球貿易的擔憂。布朗反問道﹕我們是不是應該屈從於通過逐底求得競爭力和實行保護主義呢(歷史告訴我們﹐保護主 義保護不了任何人)﹖不。我們應該有信心認為﹐我們能夠抓住前面的機會﹐讓未來服務於我們。

Benjamin Thomas for The Wall Street Journal
2008年四季度﹐英國失業率達到6.3%﹐而經濟繁榮期時的低點是2005年創下的4.7%。經濟預測機構IHS Global Insight預計﹐到2011年初﹐英國失業率將高達10.5%。


在 這樣一種形勢下﹐一些本來看似平常的行為如今在某些群體中間卻引發了強烈不滿﹐比如近期政府將一個建造和維護高速列車車隊的合同給了一家日本人牽頭的財 團。在英國最後一家機車製造廠所在地德比市﹐市議會成員萊克斯頓(Bob Laxton)稱上述舉動是“一項不明智的決定﹐它讓日本人有機會進入英國市場”。英國政府稱﹐機車的某些部件將在英國製造。

過去十年來 ﹐布朗所在的勞工黨一直致力於延續前任政府在消除投資和外資所有權障礙的努力。據聯合國貿發會議(United Nations Conference on Trade and Development)的數據﹐2004-2007年﹐外國投資相當於英國國內生產總值(GDP)的7.4%﹐而美國、德國的這個指標分別是1.4%和 1.6%。



Benjamin Thomas for The Wall Street Journal
英 國的任何保護主義做法──諸如“購買英國貨”──還將遇到另外一個問題﹐那就是在一個製造業僅佔經濟總量14.3%的國家﹐已經沒有多少東西可保護。 1995年時這個比例是21.6%。舉例來說﹐現在英國幾乎沒有生產玩具或消費電子產品的廠家﹐也沒有英國人是東家的大型汽車廠家。


在現代社會﹐保護主義的做法也不是容易的事﹐各國都加入了這樣那樣的貿易團體﹐比如世界貿易組織(World Trade Organization)和歐盟。自1995年以來﹐歐盟成員國的公民在15個成員國享有平等的申請就業的權利。


在政府拿出數十億資金用於救助計劃的時候﹐一些納稅人要求將錢用在本國。位於伊明赫姆的Oliver Construction Ltd.的負責人奧利佛(Trevor Oliver)說﹐錢當然應該留在英國。你不能是全球一個大家庭﹐你應該照顧自己的家庭。

Alistair MacDonald