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Session Overview
RN17_03b_H: Natives and Foreigners on the Labour Market
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Ylva Ulfsdotter Eriksson, University of Gothenburg
Location: HA.2.5
HAROKOPIO University 70 El. Venizelou Street 17671 Athens, Greece Building: A, Level: 2.

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The invisible proletarians of Ostrava: Ethnographic observations on racialised labour in a post-socialist city

Barbora Cernusakova

The University of Manchester, United Kingdom

This paper will focus on intermitted and informal labour of Roma residing in a neighbourhood of Ostrava, a city in the Czech Republic. Work accessible to Roma was at the core of my 11-month ethnographic research. Working alongside the street-cleaners and recycling labourers, I embarked on the process of learning about other aspects of their lives, including the local conditions for material reproduction of labour. The ‘features of work’ that have emerged from the data so far include Roma workers’ contractual insecurity and dependency on welfare; informality of their employment arrangements and related ‘invisibility’ of Roma work in the eyes of the public.

In the second part of the paper I ~theorize on the relationship between racialisation of Roma labour and capital’s demand for the ‘industrial reserve army’ in the local context of Ostrava. My aim was to explore what role has the race been playing in formation of hierarchies and fractions of working class and whether it has been (and continues to be) a factor that maintains the local industrial reserve army. Albeit significant, discriminatory racism in employment, isn’t the only factor of racialisation of Roma workers. Their access to formal, regular and better-paid employment complicate also debts, often incurred as a result of intermitted employment or low wages. Taking a contract-based job by a person with formal debts results in a cut of their wage by compulsory repayments. I ponder an argument that debts reproduce informal work as a specific form of unfree labour among Roma workers in Ostrava. Debt adds a specific vulnerability of workers who become tied to a certain types of employers.

Bosses and 'new' strangers: Syrian workers' positions in craft-based furniture industry

Feray Artar1,2, Akın Bakioğlu1

1Ankara Universty, Turkey; 2Sociology Accociation, Turkey

In this study, the Syrians, who escaped from the war and seeked asylum Turkey from 2011, will be evaluated through their 'native' and 'foreign' positions within their everyday and working lives in Siteler Furniture Industrial Zone. The study will focus on the formation of native -foreign identities in the relations between Turkish citizens living in the Ankara Siteler’s coming from in various parts of Turkey and, living and working around the Industrial Zone and refugees coming from Syria.

Although Turkish citizens themselves migrated to reside in Siteler region, they have become native as they came into contact with the Syrians since they settled to the region before the Syrians. Syrians are attracted to the industrial districts of the provinces since they are able to get ahead in the labor area surrounded with low wages and double insecurity, these districts provide a cheap housing complex that is included in the scope of urban transformation. Thus, local small producers, crafts and landlords have a new income source.

The Syrians have made a strengthening effect on the furniture industry, which is being built on the basis of artisanal craftsmanship and has almost come to an end. Syrian workers who were previously engaged in craftsmanship have integrated quite easily and they became a cheap and qualified labour force within the region.

In-depth interviews were conducted with both local residents and Syrians in a qualitative research design, and native-foreign positions in the region were tried to be read through the employee-employee-employer relationship. The striking data obtained reveals the hierarchical competition of Turkish workers with Syrian refugees and its reflection on everyday life.

Structural weaknesses, economic downturn and the competition between immigrants and natives in the Italian labour market

Maurizio Avola

University of Catania, Italy

The Italian labour market is historically characterized by some structural weaknesses. First, compared to other Western European countries, Italy has a much lower level of employment. Secondly, the Italian labour market is characterized by a structural “reluctance” to create highly skilled jobs. Finally, in Italy there is a very strong occupational penalization of young people and women and a marked territorial dualism. Nevertheless, in the last two decades Italy has become one of the foremost countries in the world for the consistency of migration in-flows. Differently to other Western European countries, in Italy immigrants (compared to natives) experience a trade-off between lower levels of penalization in terms of employment entry chance (and risk of unemployment) and higher levels of occupational segregation in the area of bad jobs (Reyneri, Fullin, 2011).

In this scenario, the economic downturn starting in 2008 has strengthen the structural weaknesses of the Italian labour market. In fact, differently from the international dynamics (Gallie, 2013), in Italy we have observed a deep decline of the employment rate combined with a clear trend to a downgrading in the quality of labour demand.

It considered that, the main research question is the following: what have been the effects of the economic downturn on the traditional dimensions of inequality characterizing the Italian labour market? In particular, the paper will focus on the evolution of the competitive relationship between native and immigrant labour force, considering also the internal differences among the Italian macro-areas. The analysis will be addressed using the Italian LFS 2005-2015 and focalizing the attention on different dimension of inequality in the labour market (employment/unemployment, job quality, employment conditions).

The earnings of immigrants: actual versus potential country-specific human capital

Andrey Tibajev

Linköping University, Sweden

This paper uses the theoretical framework of country-specific human capital in order to study earnings of immigrants and natives. The objective is to ascertain the difference in earnings return to labour market experience between specifications that use potential and actual experience. Theoretically, labour market experience acquired prior to migration should have a positive effect on earnings but with lower return than domestic experience; this is because some, but not all, skills are transferable across national contexts. But using potential experience measures, as is most common in previous research, will negatively bias the estimate for experience before migration, and bias the estimate for experience in the host country towards zero for the group with more instances of unemployment, i.e. immigrants.

By utilizing a combination of the Level-of-Living Survey 2010 and the Level-of-Living Survey for Foreign-Born, I estimate the return to experience for immigrants and natives. Models with actual experience show that the return to domestic experience is about the same for immigrants and natives, and that experience before migration has a return significantly below domestic experience, but significantly above zero. Models with potential measures show instead a coefficient for domestic experience that is biased towards zero for immigrants, and that potential experience for work before migration has no economic return at all. The results for models with actual experience are more in line with theoretical predictions, because some skills are indeed transferable across borders. And the difference between models points to the importance of good measurement when comparing groups.

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