Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

ERC

TWES — Result In Brief

Project ID: 263782
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Finland

How posted migrant workers are affecting employment relations in the EU

The EU is undergoing changes in migrant employment relations and associated law. An EU initiative examined the growth of posted migrant work and its effect on industrial relations.
How posted migrant workers are affecting employment relations in the EU
EU law limits the rights of unions and governments to regulate the working conditions of foreign service providers operating in their countries. For the most part, employment relationships are regulated by workers' native countries and not by their hosts. Transnational subcontracting and agency work is segmenting labour markets within the EU.

With this in mind, the EU-funded TWES (Transnational work and the evolution of sovereignty) project explored how sovereignty has been adjusted through EU law and firm practice to rely less on territory. Overall, the aim was to determine how this impacted the transformation of migrant labour relations across the EU. The focus was on the construction and metalworking industries because of their high rates of posted workers.

Project partners interviewed posted migrants and native co-workers in order to document their experiences. They also interviewed managers, union officials and policymakers. Additional interviews helped to understand the political and legal changes occurring in the EU that accelerate the growth of variegated sovereignty. Using these interviews as a basis, several comparative case studies of various work sites and industries were conducted.

Results show that new types of transnational employment benefit from opportunities to systematically arbitrage between national employment standards and to completely avoid national regulations. EU institutions, particularly the European Court of Justice, allow and encourage such practices by supporting legal interpretations that safeguard transnational employers against national regulations. This leads to a highly deregulated pan-European labour market in many industries, where workers' only option in employer abuse cases is to seek employment elsewhere.

TWES demonstrated what happens when national labour's channels of influence weaken and the posting of migrant workers intensifies.

Related information

Keywords

Posted migrant workers, employment relations, TWES, transnational work, sovereignty
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