Saturday, January 31, 2009

intertribal tensions test eu rules...,

Washington Post | Workers carrying placards that said "British jobs for British workers" staged demonstrations at more than a dozen refineries and power stations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The workers are protesting a decision by Total, the French oil company, to award a $280 million contract to an Italian firm, IREM, for work at a plant in Lincolnshire, England. The project will involve about 400 foreign workers.

Nearly 2 million Britons are jobless, the highest unemployment level since 1997. As job losses mount, officials are reporting increasing antagonism toward foreign workers.

European Union rules require a free flow of labor among member nations. And officials have cautioned that such an important pillar of European unity should not be undermined by an economic downturn.

Hundreds of thousands of Poles, Latvians, Lithuanians and other newer members of the European Union flocked to Britain in recent years as the country's economy boomed. But as recession hit, and the buying power of Britain's pound has fallen sharply, increasing numbers of immigrants are returning home. Those who remain are competing with local workers for a far smaller pool of jobs.