Waiting for the tap on the shoulder

“He knew he didn’t have the right to work, but he never quite got round to applying for the right to work or leave to remain.” The Guardian suggests we are to feel sorry for ‘John’ in his plight.  What of the native worker who’s job he took – are we not to feel sorry for them?

GUARDIAN, 26Sep09: The controversy over Lady Scotland’s housekeeper has highlighted the plight of the thousands of ‘undocumented workers’ who live in constant fear of being deported.

It’s 9.20pm and John is so knackered he’s finding it hard to talk. He’s on his third bus of the evening, travelling from central London to Croydon, Surrey. Six months ago it took him 45 minutes to get home from work on the tube. Now that he can’t afford such a luxury it can take three hours. Back then he had a good job as an IT manager earning £29,000. He had worked at the same place for 15 years, climbed the ladder and was highly regarded by his colleagues. Now he’s doing a similar job for another company and half the money. He is in debt, and terrified that he could be deported or imprisoned for fraud.

He is one of the many visible invisibles in Britain’s workforce – the people we see every day at work that we chat away to, oblivious to the fact they are undocumented, waiting for the dreaded tap on the shoulder.

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