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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