Migrant workers on a bus bound for factories in the Czech Republic last month. Employment agencies recruit thousands of workers a year for manual-labor and service-industry jobs across Europe. Photo Credit Milan Bures for The New York Times

Europe’s Thirst for Cheap Labor Fuels a Boom in Disposable Workers

Article in the New York Times
16 December, 2017

As long as Europe does not clean up its labour markets and enforce its labour law framework in favour of all workers, including undocumented workers and temporary migrant workers, through the active repression of labour exploitation by millions of unscrupulous employers, small and big, these employers will call for more cheap labour. Repression of undocumented migration actually facilitates this exploitation by pushing migrant workers further into the margins or into the underground, thus subsidising the migrant smuggling, unethical recruiting and exploitative employment businesses. Pushed by Global North States, global migration governance fora mostly discuss push factors of undocumented migration (poverty and violence in the Global South) but seldom talks about the major pull factor that is constituted by unacknowledged labour needs in the Global North.

“Those agencies recruiting manual labor scour the Continent for people willing to pick vegetables in Britain, pour concrete in France or work assembly lines in Eastern Europe. While they receive monthly pay, they often work long days, so their wages can average out to as little as 3.50 euros, or about $4.10, an hour — less than the minimum wage in some of the countries. Some agencies control entire labor supply chains, transporting recruits across borders, lodging them, busing them to and from job sites, and then moving them elsewhere when they’re no longer needed.”

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