Alan Johnson hopes for British jobs for British workers
Plans to restrict the number of British jobs going to foreign workers will be unveiled by Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary today.
By Andrew Porter, Political Editor
Published: 7:01AM BST 07 Sep 2009
It is part of Gordon Browns attempt to ensure British jobs go to British workers, a rallying call that backfired over the past year when workers in the oil industry walked out over foreign workers being recruited.
Mr Johnson will instruct British companies to advertise all jobs through UK jobcentres for one month before being allowed to look overseas. Previously, firms were only required to advertise locally for two weeks before casting their net wider to countries outside the European Union.
The Home Secretary will also announce that the period for skilled foreign workers to become eligible to work here is being doubled from six months to a year.
The aim of the move to is ensure British workers are first in line for jobs, but also that they have enough time to apply and be interviewed before the firm looks at other options.
Mr Brown used his first Labour conference speech two years ago to make the call for British jobs to be given to British workers. It attracted criticism from many on the left, but unions knew that this was an issue that was starting to worry many of their members.
Others thought that the claim was likely to fall foul of EU law. Critics warned that EU law requires companies to consider applications for vacancies from EU nationals.
In the event the words came back to haunt Mr Brown when hundreds of workers at the French-owned Lindsay oil refinery in Lincolnshire walked out in protest at the decision to bring in 300 Italian workers for a contract instead of using local staff.
Wildcat strikes followed across the region as workers walked out in sympathy. Mr Brown condemned that action and defended his comments.
He said his remarks were about ensuring British workers had the rights skills to get jobs in the UK.
Mr Johnson accepted the findings of a Migration Advisory Committee study which pit forward the new measures.