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#1 2016-03-09 12:44:50

Ray X

Ledbury Factory life

Remember the Jam Factory? Maybe you worked there, if not, but you're from Ledbury, you'll know someone who did.

Factory life back in those days enabled you to work and be paid a living wage. There was a sense of community, people knew each other and could talk about the footy or what was on tele last night last.

What is factory life like in Ledbury now? Can you imagine a factory floor where you are the only person born in Ledbury and you are the only person who speaks English as a first language? No idle chat about shared culture. This is an environment inhabited by East European migrant workers. They work hard; they contribute to society paying their taxes and integrate as best they can into the local community. They shop locally and bring a youthful vitality to the town.

The globalisation of a Ledbury factory has not only changed the culture of factory work, but made it near impossible to work and be paid a living wage. When migrant Poles complain that Romanians or Bulgarians are forcing down wages, it's time to sit up and take notice, isn't it?

But don't blame the factory; they don't even employ their workers. The workers are employed by an agency which is taking a 20-25% cut of their salary. No holiday pay; no pension plan and zero job security. You earn so little that the Government is borrowing money to top up your pay. You are not earning a living wage so you have your cap in hand to the welfare system, despite being fully employed.

So you (and I) as taxpayers are effectively funding the factory, who is funding the agency, who is ripping off the workers. Is it really a rip off? Losing a quarter of your wages, having no holiday pay or pension plan? Having no job security?

Times have changed, but you shouldn't blame the migrants or even the EU for this. This is project Thatcher/Blair/Coalition and Cameron. Tory/Labour/Liberal all working against the interests of UK and Ledbury workers.


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