Recession is forcing companies to cut back on migrant workers, says business chief
By James Slack and Becky Barrow
Last updated at 10:41 PM on 03rd February 2009
A top businessman has waded into the 'British jobs for British workers' controversy by predicting a 'sharp' fall in the use of migrant labour.
John Cridland, deputy director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, said employers would no longer be able to 'make the same case' that large number of non-EU migrants should be given work permits.
A record 151,000 permits were handed out last year.
Mr Cridland also predicted that the Government's migration advisory committee would slash the number of jobs eligible for work permits to help British workers through the recession.
He made the remarks to a committee of MPs as the wildcat strikes over migrant labour continued.
For the fifth day, hundreds of workers at the Lindsey oil refinery in Lincolnshire protested against the use of foreigners in the construction of a 200million plant.
But many of the workers who had taken part in sympathy strikes at other sites around the country have returned to work, in a sign that the dispute may have peaked.
Mr Cridland told the Commons home affairs committee that workers from Poland and other Eastern European countries were already going home because there were fewer jobs in Britain.
He added: 'We know employers face a sharp contraction in demand. Their first response to that has been to reduce their dependency on agency labour.
'I expect that, when we next have a report on the migration committee on the needs for skilled labour, they will not see the same need for non-EU labour in the same numbers because of the need to provide as many opportunities as possible for the unemployed.
'The market will correct itself but what we cannot avoid is a significant increase in unemployment which is a sad but inevitable consequence of recessions.'
Mr Cridland defended the free movement of workers between EU countries and said there was 'no evidence' of discrimination against British workers at the Lindsey site.