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Thursday 20 June 2019 9.00 - 10.30
C-1 GLM21 Mobility Strategies, Transnational Migration and Labour's Power
Posthumus
Chair: Devi Sacchetto Organizers: Gabriella Alberti, Devi Sacchetto
Discussant: Gabriella Alberti
Zinovijus Ciupijus, Chris Forde : 'Regulating Labour Mobility'? Exploring the Roles Played by Meso-level Mechanisms in Shaping Migrants' Access to Paid Employment on a Local Level
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Olena Fedyuk, Tibor Meszmann : Ladders or Snakes? Job Quality Assessment of Temp Workers from Ukraine in Hungarian Electronics
In contrast to usual integration of migrant workers for ‘bottom jobs’, employment of Ukrainian workers in Hungarian electronics plants seem to take place in a more beneficial way. With the active mediation of temporary (temp) agencies Ukrainian migrant workers get regular blue collar assembly jobs, and social rights and benefits ... (Show more)
In contrast to usual integration of migrant workers for ‘bottom jobs’, employment of Ukrainian workers in Hungarian electronics plants seem to take place in a more beneficial way. With the active mediation of temporary (temp) agencies Ukrainian migrant workers get regular blue collar assembly jobs, and social rights and benefits just as their local Hungarian colleagues. Relying in our analysis on literature from industrial sociology, migration research as well as global value chain literature, we are developing a critical perspective in which migration and employment are not seen as separate spheres but mutually reinforcing each other. We combine a bottom-up empirical research based on interviews with workers and a sectoral inquiry on industrial and employment relations in the temp agency sector in supplying multinational corporations. Our main argument is that complex contracting means also subtle controlling. Such contracting is not the cheapest, but it creates a different, efficient form and regime of employment with dependent, controllable, flexibly available, ‘fluid’ employees. Employee respondents described their position as dependent, “out of control,” and only a temporal earning opportunity.” Devoid of clear mechanisms of controlling their work conditions or growth within the job, all respondents turned to a more instrumental approach, in which they invested into building up a personal social capital through friendships, networks and personal relationships. Obtaining Hungarian citizenship and learning the language was another main strategy of dealing with insecurity. This attempt corresponds with, and reinforces a more globally integrated, but an ethnically motivated immigration regime, characteristic to post-socialist Hungary.

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Devi Sacchetto, Gabriella Alberti : Theorising Labour Mobility Power through the Lenses of Migration
In recent years, and specifically in the context of intra-EU mobility, research has increasingly paid attention to the use of mobility and migration by workers to exercise what Smith (2006) has called labour ‘mobility power’. Recent empirical studies of migrant workers across Europe manufacturing and services, have shown indeed how ... (Show more)
In recent years, and specifically in the context of intra-EU mobility, research has increasingly paid attention to the use of mobility and migration by workers to exercise what Smith (2006) has called labour ‘mobility power’. Recent empirical studies of migrant workers across Europe manufacturing and services, have shown indeed how workers use migration and mobility to quit poorly remunerated and precarious jobs, improve their economic conditions, but also share such “mobility skills” and knowledge about the host country’s labour market to exercise upwards occupational or sectoral exit. From the research by Andrijasevic and Sacchetto (2016) in the Taiwanese owned-Foxconn factories in Eastern Europe where ‘multinational workers’ use their temporariness to escape low-pay and intense working patterns, to the transnational exit strategies of poorly treated migrant hotel workers in Alberti’s study on the UK (2014), higher levels of labour mobility appear to have coincided with both increasing chances for migrants to find sources of income and survival, but also growing employer-led ‘flexibility’, labour turnover and exploitation. Wearing the lenses of transnational migration (Ong 1999) and the autonomy perspective (Bojadžijev and Karakayali, 2008), this paper challenges these deeply seated notions about labour migration elaborating a typology of forms of migrant mobility practices according to their implications for workers (and their families) across the field of production and social reproduction. Reviewing recent evidence and theory on migration and mobility practices we argue in favour of disentangling hiterto conflated forms of mobility in order to unpack their social power and unsettling effects in the workplace and society. (Show less)



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