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We could send migrants home, says Prof—but who’d keep us afloat?

PUBLISHED: 16:13 19 February 2009 | UPDATED: 14:05 05 October 2010

THE story of how workers fought to get a living wage over the past 140 years is the theme of Prof Jane Wills’ inaugural lecture at the University of London’s Queen Mary College at Mile End on February 26. It traces the origins of the living wage’ campaign and its place today in the era of subcontracted labour. We could send migrants home, she argues, but that would leave no-one to keep the city afloat

THE story of how workers fought to get a living wage over the past 140 years is the theme of a public debate in London’s East End.

The debate is part of Prof Jane Wills’ inaugural lecture at the University of London’s Queen Mary College at Mile End next Thursday (February 26).

Her 6.30pm talk traces the origins of the living wage’ campaign back to the 1870s and its place today in the era of subcontracted labour.

“Subcontracting has worked over the past 20 years to keep down wages and fuel a demand for migrant workers,” she warns.

“The fabled British worker is now a subcontracted worker who, if organised, could be priced out of a job next time the contract is tendered.”

Her research has exposed London’s low wages in jobs like cleaning, welfare care, catering and hospitality, all dependent on subcontractors who rely almost completely on foreign workers.

We could send migrants home, she argues, but that would leave no-one to keep the city afloat.

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