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Session Overview
Session
RS16_06a_IC: Mechanisms of Ethno-Migrant Inequality Production at Work
Time:
Thursday, 31/Aug/2017:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Hans Siebers, Tilburg University
Location: Intercontinental - Arcade II
Athenaeum Intercontinental Hotel Syngrou Avenue 89-93 Athens, Greece Floor: Lobby Level

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Presentations

Legalising exploitation? New forms of gangmastering in Italian agriculture, tourism and logistics

Federico Oliveri

University of Pisa, Italy

Since 2010, after migrant farmworkers rioted and went on strike in many Italian districts, gangmastering in agriculture gained new media attention and started being addressed by criminal law. Nevertheless, living and working conditions of migrants did not improve; instead they worsened, under the pressure of economic crisis and restructuring among other reasons.

This paper discusses four theses on the persistent exploitation of migrant workers as one of the most evident sign of structural racial inequality affecting Italian labour market.

1. Moralising discourses and repressive policies focused on (ethnic) gangmasters avoid addressing the causes of exploitation and illegal/informal subcontracting of labour in agriculture. These causes include social and legal vulnerability of migrants (regular and irregular as well), and the unfair organisation of food supply chains.

2. As an effect of the ongoing penal turn, exploitative gangmastering takes new forms, more difficult to detect and repress. Exploitation becomes de facto legalised, as new gangmasters use formally legal labour agencies, subcontracts and social cooperatives in order to supply companies with disposable and cheap labour.

3. Unlike the traditional ones, new forms of gangmastering are not limited to the agriculture of Southern Italy, but spread out through the whole country, affecting sectors such as tourism and logistics too.

4. Struggles of migrants and their supporters against new forms of gangmastering provide a significant standpoint for addressing systemic causes of exploitation and developing adequate strategies of action, including class solidarity and coalitions between migrant and non-migrant workers.


Migrant divisions and management practices in the hotel sector in Venice

Gabriella Alberti, Francesco Iannuzzi

University of Leeds, United Kingdom

Migrant workers, from a wide range of countries, comprise an important part of the workforce in Venice hotels, whose size varies according to seasonal fluctuations (Istat, 2016). Similarly to previous studies conducted in London (McDowell 2008; Alberti 2014), workers appear differentiated along multiple lines of divisions including race, gender, nationality and migration status.

One overlooked aspect of research on migrant labour in the low-paid end of the tourism sector is how the particular forms of segregation experienced by migrants in relation to their specific occupation dovetail with forms of discrimination related to contractual status. This intersection appears particularly relevant in the wider context of precarisation of employment relations and growing inequality experienced by non-citizens.

Drawing from fieldwork conducted in 2016-17 in Venice the paper shows how migrant hotel workers tend to experience discrimination along three main overlapping dimensions. The first concerns their position in back of house jobs mostly invisible to "the tourist gaze", where gender and racial stereotypes more than precarious migratory status permeate management discriminatory practices. The second level is connected to the relationship between migrant labour and job insecurity where migrants are overrepresented in the contingent workforce (e.g. seasonal and temporary agency work). The third is related to migrant employment in departments that are often outsourced to contractors called “cooperative firms”, which appear to be important devices in reproducing migrants’ precarity. Bringing these dimensions together the authors develop an argument about the specific forms of divisions that underpins and reproduce the precarisation of labour in Venetian hotels.


Understanding ethno-migrant disadvantage in UK public sector employment in semi-rural areas: persistent barriers, inadequate solutions

Philomena de Lima1, Maria Helen Hudson2, Gina Netto3, Mike Noon4, Filip Sosenko3, Nicolina Kamenou-aigbekaen5

1University of the Highlands and Islands, United Kingdom; 2University of Essex, United Kingdom; 3Heriot-Watt University, United Kingdom; 4Queen Mary, University of London, United Kingdom; 5Zayed University, United Arab Emirates

The UK public sector has long drawn on migrant labour, in part reflecting national labour shortages, the socio-economic aspirations of economic migrants and obstacles to private sector opportunities. A growth in race-related equal opportunities policies occurred in parallel with the casting of the state as ‘good’ employer. However, this belied the historically persistent under-evaluation of, and unequal outcomes for, migrant/ethnic minority women and men, over-represented in low paid work. With the economic crisis, austerity measures adopted and the continued exposure of the public sector to market forces, the opportunity structures of migrant/ ethnic minority workers have been eroded through job loss, outsourcing and an erosion of progression opportunities.

Local economic contexts are under explored in critical diversity/inequality studies. This paper explores the social (re)production of ethno-migrant disadvantage and its changing contours using the lens of intersectionality. It focuses on public sector employment in semi-rural localities to explore the contingent nature of ‘configurations of inequalities‘ reflected in intersections of ethnicity, migrant status, gender and class shaping social/human capital constraints on social mobility in local economies. It will consider the role of the public sector equality duty and employer positive action measures in countering these constraints and their limitations in fostering progressive change in racial hierarchies.

The exploration draws on local authority and NHS Trust case studies in two semi-rural areas in Scotland/England, undertaken in 2012/13, including interviews with HR and line managers, minority ethnic individuals who are long-term residents/British/EU Citizens and recent EU/non-EU migrants.


Migration, Gender and Progressing to Better Paid Work: New Opportunities to break through Glass Ceilings or Sticky Floors?

Gina Netto1, Maria Hudson2, Mike Noon3, Filip Sosenko1, Philomena de Lima4, Nicolina Kamenou-Aigbekaen5

1Heriot Watt University; 2University of Essex; 3Queen Mary University of London; 4University of the Highlands and Islands; 5Zahid University

Migration is influenced by multiple factors acting at the macro, meso and micro levels in which gender plays a key role. At the macro level, changing labour shortages in advanced Western industrialised countries may shift traditional gendered patterns of migration at the meso-level of households within which men typically lead the process, and intersect with the micro level agency of women and men. Migration represents a significant change in the life course and career trajectories of individuals requiring them to shape their career trajectories within new labour markets, opportunity structures and cultural norms in destination countries. A key focus of research is the transferability of human capital or the knowledge and skills that migrants bring with them. However, the aspirations of migrants and how they seek to advance their careers within the workplace, and the ways in which gender influences this process is under-researched.

Drawing on research funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and carried out in five organisations in England and Scotland, this study draws on analysis of narratives generated by interviews with thirty migrants and individual case studies to explore the aspirations of women and men in low-paid work and their attempts to progress their careers within their workplaces. It reveals the complex ways in which gender intersects with other aspects of migrant identity to influence how women and men make sense of discontinuities/continuities in their career pathways and the challenges they face in navigating routes to career development within their new contexts.



 
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