Yesterday, while at the soup kitchen that is run by the group of monks whom I’ve mentioned before on this blog, about two posts or so ago I think. Well the thing is, I witnessed such an unbelievable, disturbing sight, or let me put it this way, something which I hope not to see again in any kind of hurry, but I fear that it is in fact very commonplace.
In Canning Town we have a large and expanding settlement of what would have been referred to as immigrants in the past: I’m of course referring to the Eastern Europeans that moved over during the course of the last few years, obviously, for the sought after economic benefits such as employment and so on, which from the onset of this post; I will make it clear there’s nothing wrong in that, after all, that’s how all working people have always survived, moving to areas of employment that would sustain them through their working lives. In this country cities and towns grew as the migration to cities was forced on people – they had to go where the work was, and that’s a historical fact of capitalism.
As we all know many Eastern Europeans have moved over for these reasons, employment and an improved standard of living, and who can blame them!
It’s very easy in these the hard times to blame others, and many don’t consider that the problems stem from the system, they conveniently blank out the reality escaping instead to the live episode of East Enders, which casts no true refection of realism! That programme if you ask me is on a par with the Wizard of Oz. Last week the identity of Archie (Nasty) Mitchell’s killer was at last revealed, following the BBC’s run up with continual trailers that were driving even fans of the soap opera mad. About bleedin’ time I heard many say, and yet it attracted over 16 million viewers.
In recent years our soaps have been hailed for breaking new ground in tackling many social issues and tend to focus on more everyday characters and situations than ever, frequently set in working class environments particularly here in the UK. I recently discovered that in 2008 Londynczycy (Londoners) was made, a big budget Polish drama series which follows the lives of a group of Poles as they seek their fortune in London.
Darek is a 30-year-old Polish builder who lives in Ealing, west London. Like a million or more of his compatriots, he rushed to the UK when Poland joined the EU in 2004. He works hard, but his British boss Peter, wants him to work harder. "If I had wanted it to take five days I would have hired Brits. But I had three days, which is why I hired you," Peter tells Darek.
The scenario may be familiar to people in towns and cities across Britain. This show was the first Polish attempt to tackle the post-accession wave of immigration, which has seen many of Poland's brightest young people relocate to Britain, where they often end up working in badly paid jobs for which they are vastly overqualified in a great many cases. However not everyone that arrives has skills to offer employers, thousands only have manual un-skilled experience and like Darek end up being exploited, many in the black economy working for less than the minim wage, I’ve meet one person who worked all day for ten pounds moving office furniture around London, he told me he was grateful for the work as he was not able to qualify for out of work benefits. Many have no forms of identity, passports or anything, especially those that live by me in Canning Town, what I’ve been able to observe is that they are sleeping rough or have made a home in some of the recently decanted council housing that’s making way for luxury apartments, part of the New Labour so-called regeneration of the Olympic Borough and Canning Town.
As far as I can ascertain, our Eastern European migrants are living all over London, many on the streets in the East & West End, many have problems with drink and drugs, drunkenness amongst a proportion of this community is a common site on the streets, including violence which brings me back to that which I witnessed yesterday, an old man being beaten up by his younger countrymen, not only in the street but in broad daylight and outside a monastery that’s running a soup kitchen offering and aiming to help them. At that point, I knew that here in Britain this has confirmed to me that the foundation of social cohesion stands upon a mound of quicksand ready to fall in anytime soon! I couldn’t workout and still can’t understand, just why is it that thousands of poor people have been allowed to move over with no real hope of ever getting any sort of work, and to end up living in the areas that they share with our own poor?
The lives of many of the least well off Eastern Europeans in the UK is harsh, but possibly better than in their own countries, even when they have no regular money or access to it! Some are able to find work from time to time, but most are being used by British capital to bring down labour costs. This stands as evidence of how the system plays one set of workers against another set of workers, whilst local and national politicians turn a blind eye concentrating instead on accusing each other of being bullies!
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