So far, professional and skilled UK workers have been happy to sit back, sipping cocktails served by their underpaid Hungarian housekeepers, and tsk-tsk-tsk at the pernicious xenophobia of their unskilled countrymen. You know, those “racists” who complain that open door immigration to hundreds of thousands of unskilled EU workers is driving their wages and their already challenging lifestyle into the dirt.
As IT professionals, engineers, architects, bankers and the like, there has been little to no chance that an unskilled Latvian immigrant is going to take their job.
Forgive me if I chuckle a little, then, when I say to the professional classes that your days of selfish, self-satisfied complacency are numbered.
Thanks to the EU’s impending Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India, which is effectively a UK-India FTA, (a deceptive UK “opt-out” notwithstanding) you are about to see your lives circle and disappear down the same corporatist slave labour plug hole that has already flushed away the lives of too many unskilled UK workers.
The sewer that your lives will be flushed down has a name: Mode 4.
Mode 4 is World Trade Organization techno-babble for the free movement of “temporary” or even permanent workers across borders, and not just EU borders, all borders of signatories to FTAs.
In the case of the EU-India FTA, Mode 4 — the ONLY condition India is putting on the signing of the FTA — will allow corporations to effectively bypass the UK’s border controls, wage rules, workplace protections etc, and to send their Indian employees to their UK offices, paying them peanuts.
Corporations can also recruit workers in one country to send to work in the destination company.
Of course, the UK professionals currently holding affected positions will quickly have to decide how appealing peanuts are, professionally speaking.
So that it’s clear, here’s the WTO’s nutshell definition of Mode 4:
What is mode 4?
- The movement of labour from one country can vary along several lines – length of stay, level of skills and nature of the contract. A person can move for one day or permanently; be relatively unskilled or be a specialist in a particular field; move as an independent professional or be transferred from company headquarters in one country to a branch office in another country [Mattoo, 2003]. The question of which aspects of these variations are covered by GATS mode 4 is discussed below.
(i) Who is included in mode 4?
- Technically, mode 4 is defined in Article I.2(d) of GATS as being “the supply of a service… by a service supplier of one Member, through presence of natural persons of a Member in the territory of another Member”. This definition applies to nationals as well as, in certain circumstances, permanent residents, of WTO Members seeking to supply services abroad (permanent residents are covered where the Member does not have nationals or accords substantially the same treatment to permanent residents and nationals) [Article XXVIII(k)].
The UK is barely a whisker away from implementing Mode 4.
The impetus behind Mode 4 is the WTO’s EU-esque plan to grease the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour globally. Goods, services and capital have all leapt ahead in this respect. Lagging, though, is what Mode 4 refers to as the “resource” of the free movement of “natural persons”. By “natural persons” it means people who will beg to work for peanuts.
Apparently, the WTO, India and David Cameron, who has already secretly agreed in principal to Mode 4, seem to have not noticed that “natural persons” are more than just units of production or insensate widgets in a global moneymaking machine.
We have lives, loves, priorities, opinions, loyalties, commitments, expectations, fears, hopes, and all kinds of impediments to being treated by corporations like machine parts.
Of course, our humanity isn’t something that the EU or the UK government has ever paid much attention to, particularly when it comes to them, under the cosh of accusations of “racism”, destroying the livelihoods of millions of UK workers in pursuit of the Technocratic, neo-conservative corporate Nirvana of a fully integrated and centrally controlled, minimal cost, global marketplace.
I’m going to be interested to see just how many and how quickly UK professionals suddenly become peanut-hating “racists” and cry foul when their employer starts trundling the Delhi peanut cart around their offices.
You betchya. And, you know what? You contemptible UK professionals deserve it for the callous and self-righteous way you, as a class, have stood by and watched your unskilled UK brethren get sucked under by the same global riptide that’s about to grab you.
Of course, there is a foolproof way to avoid Mode 4 and, perhaps, to make a little amends for your despicable treatment of unskilled UK labour: Vote to Leave the EU on June 23, 2016.