A SMALL, dark-eyed man blows on his hands and contemplates another long night. He is Romanian—let us call him Andrei—and he works in New Covent Garden Market on the south bank of the Thames, hauling sacks of vegetables destined for the capital’s restaurants. Andrei earns £55 ($87) for an 11 or 12 hour shift—a criminally low wage. But he is, of course, illegal: Romanians, with Bulgarians the newest members of the European Union, will not get free access to its labour market until the end of the year. So, most likely, are his Iraqi and Pakistani co-workers—fellow low-paid bottom-feeders of the British economy.
Andrei is willing to talk. There is an understanding, almost trust, between those who meet by night in the market; and, at the age of 29, he is battle-hardened. Since leaving Romania nine years ago, Andrei has schlepped and skivvied in Italy, Spain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. He came