FECL 15 (May 1993):

QUOTA SYSTEM FOR MIGRANT WORKERS

Only 2 percent of all people living in Spain are foreigners and this is how things shall remain according to the will of the government. Until recently, innumerable "poverty refugees" sought their way Europe through Spain. An ordinance on immigration which entered into force in April is to set an end to this so far uncontrolled migratory flux.

Stay permits will be granted to non-EC foreigners according to a quota regulation. Each year a number of working permits shall be granted to new-comers, corresponding to the demands of the Spanish labour market. The quota set for this year comprises 20'000 work permits, half of which are destined for seasonal workers. It is expected that this temporary employment opportunity will be seized by North-Africans from the Maghreb-States, above all. The Spanish government intends to privilege applications from these "neighbouring Mediterranean countries". The declared aim is to "bridge over short-term bottle-necks in the home labour market".

In order to prevent "guest" workers from illegally remaining in the country, they must engage themselves to leave the Iberic peninsula immediately, once their short-term work permit has expired. Furthermore, the ordinance includes provisions engaging employers in "enabling the immigrants to return to their home country", i.e. entreprises are expected to co-operate with public authorities, if a seasonal worker should try to remain in the country illegally.

The workers unions have expressed mixed feelings about the quota regulation. On the one hand union officials called the measures of the government "a certain progress" against the background of an otherwise extremely restrictive foreigner policy of the ruling socialists. On the other hand they demand that immigrants already living in Spain without valid documents be at last granted work permits.

The employers' associations on their part praise the quota system. Despite high unemployment - every fifth Spaniard is on the dole - a lot of low wage and health endangering jobs are vacant. The North-African temporary "guest" workers are expected to fill this gap - with no hope to ever obtain a residence permit.

 

Source: Berliner Zeitung, 31.3.93

 

 

Comment

In a preparatory report for the European Council in Maastricht, in December 1991, the Ad Hoc Group Immigration called for the introduction of the principle of "preference for the Community. This meant that employers should be obliged to recruit EC-work force, whenever possible. Recruiting of workforce from third (non-EC) countries should be admitted only, when no EC-workforce was available. This was very much in line with the demand by the European Roundtable of Industrialists (Reshaping Europe, September 1990) for a common immigration policy including "the provison of employment opportunities [for non-EC nationals] in Western Europe which would not require permanent migration (e.g. project-tied fixed term work, seasonal and cross-border employment)" and "the formulation of a legal, open-door, common European immigration policy, with a fixed or flexible annual quota of intakes (...)". Spain has lived up to these demands.

South Africa's apartheid system invented the "homelands", dummy states with black puppet "governments". The black "homeland" residents had the "right" to work, but not to live in South Africa. Thus, they provided a flexible cross-border workforce - at hand, when needed and sent back into their Bantustans, when the job was done. Unlike even the most miserable immigrants in the USA, they had no hope that their sacrifice would some day be honoured by a better life for their childern at least.

Now, the "Fortress Europe" is creating its "homelands" in North Africa, this all but inexhaustible work force reservoir. Is the EC heading for apartheid on a continental level?

N.B.