EU Protectionism Watch: Free Movement of Labor

The surprising part of this EU Observer article isn’t that British refinery workers called a two-day strike to protest the the hiring of 40 foreign workers by a subcontractor. Nor is it that the parent company eventually caved, and promised to replace them with homegrown British workers.

No, what surprised me was that Britain’s government statistics shop reported that foreign workers are increasingly leaving Britain, and fewer are coming to replace them. Now I’m not sure if that reflects the reality (i.e., including undocumented workers). But it suggests that the economic downturn, at least in Britain, has had the opposite effect that I’d have expected, with people in the poorer eastern economies staying home.