Reworking labour practices: On the agency of unorganized mobile migrant construction workers

Lisa Berntsen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    31 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    In an attempt to probe the nuanced processes of non-unionization, this article analyses the agency of migrant construction workers and the ways they negotiate and navigate an increasingly flexible and pan-European labour market. Drawing upon qualitative interview data, the article argues that the precarious employment context limits opportunities for effective collective action (and unionization), and that workers employ a wide range of strategies to ‘get by’ and ‘get ahead’ instead. This analysis contributes to an understanding of the resilience of current employment relations by extending the discussion of agency with the category of reworking. Instead of challenging the way cross-border employment relations are organized, migrant construction workers employ various strategies that rework existing conditions to their advantage. On a broader scale, however, these practices contribute to the continuation of current employment relations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)472–488
    JournalWork, Employment and Society
    Volume30
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Keywords

    • agency
    • flexible employment
    • migrant workers

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